#129. Do the people agree to Yahweh’s words and commandments before OR after Yahweh gives them? (Ex 19:7 vs Ex 24:3, 24:7)
#130. Are the priest commanded to approach Yahweh OR are they not? (Ex 19:22 vs Ex 19:24, 24:1)
#131. Who ascends the mountain: Moses OR Moses and Aaron OR Moses, Aaron, Nadab, Abihu, and seventy of Israel’s elders? (Ex 19:3, 19:19, 24:3, 32:3 vs Ex 19:24 vs Ex 24:1, 24:9)
#132. What mountain is ascended: Horeb OR Sinai? (Ex 24:13 vs Ex 19:18, 24:13, 34:2)

In its current form, Exodus 19-24 is a compilation of different traditions relating Moses’ or Moses and company’s ascent(s) and descent(s) to and fro Yahweh, the giving(s) of Yahweh’s commandments, Yahweh’s theophany(ies), and the ritual ceremonies ratifying Yahweh and Israel’s covenant—all of which are a byproduct of lengthy editorial processes, which in the end have created a composite narrative with some amusing internal inconsistencies. For example, in the text’s current narrativeRead More

#133. Who speaks the Ten Commandments to the people: Moses OR Yahweh? (Ex 19:25 vs Ex 20:1)

The storyline at the end of Exodus chapter 19 is disconnected to what is immediately presented at the opening of chapter 20. 19:25And Moses went down to the people and he said to them. 20:1And God spoke all these words: “I am Yahweh your god… You shall have no other gods before me.” What continues from here to verse 18 is the Ten Commandments. Verses 1-17 are an insert. The TenRead More

#134. Which Ten Commandments: Ex 20:1-17 OR Ex 34:14-26?
#135. Did Yahweh write down the same Ten Commandments OR did he not? (Ex 34:1 vs Ex 20:1-17, 34:14-26)

Unknown to millions of so-called “readers” of the Bible, there are actually two different and quite unique accounts of the Ten Commandments. In fact, the only one that is specifically referred to in the text as “Yahweh’s 10 words” is the version least known! In the composite JEP text that we now have before us, these two once independent Ten Commandments traditions were brought together by a later editor to formRead 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

#137. Does Yahweh decree that his altars are to be built of earth OR his one altar of acacia wood plated with bronze, 5 cubits by 5 cubits? (Ex 20:24 vs Ex 27:1-2, 38:1-2)
#138. Are sacrifices to Yahweh permitted on any altar OR only the altar before the Tabernacle? (Ex 20:24 vs Lev 1-9, 17)

Today’s contradiction actually marks our first contradiction between the Pentateuch’s law codes. As it has come to be assembled, the Pentateuch contains three separate law codes: Exodus 20-23, Leviticus 17-27, and Deuteronomy 12-26. Each one of these law codes was written by a different author, in a different historical era, and to address the concerns and needs of different audiences. In general they share much in common, but there are also gapingRead 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

#141. A manslayer may seek asylum at Yahweh’s altar OR not? (Ex 21:14 vs Ex 29:37; Lev 8; Num 4:13-15, etc.)

Whoever strikes a man and he dies, he shall be put to death. But the one who did not lie in wait, but God by happenstance conveyed it to his hand, I shall set a place for you that he shall flee to. But if a man will plot against his neighbor to kill him with treachery, him you shall take from my altar to die. (Ex 21:12-14) Ancient cultures typicallyRead More

#142. Can a murderer ransom his life through a monetary compensation? (Ex 21:30 vs Num 35:31)

All of the Pentateuch’s 3 law codes attest to the ancient custom of lex talionis, the law of retaliation—in this case, a life for a life. The law code in Exodus 21 lays out this penalty quite clearly. one who strikes a man and he dies shall be put to death! one who strikes his father or mother shall be put to death! one who steals a man and sells himRead More

#143. If someone strikes you do you seek retribution per the law OR offer the other cheek as well? (Ex 21:12-24 vs Matt 5:39)

One who strikes a man and he dies, he shall be put to death! (Ex 21:12) And if there be any injury, then you shall give a life for a life, an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, a hand for a hand, a foot for a foot, a burn for a burn, a wound for a wound, a hurt for a hurt! (Ex 21:24) The lex talionis—theRead More

#144. Is the reparation for stealing four or fivefold OR one and one-fifth fold? (Ex 21:37 vs Lev 5:24)

The Bible’s variant legal codes give 2 contradictory responses concerning how much reparation ought to be payed by a thief. Exodus 21:37 states that if a man should steal an ox or a sheep and slaughter it or sell it, he shall pay 5 oxen for the stolen ox, and 4 sheep for the stolen sheep. Later one at 22:3 we’re informed that if the stolen animal is still alive orRead More

#145. Are firstborn sons sacrificed to Yahweh OR are they redeemed? (Ex 22:28 vs Ex 13:2, 13:11-16, 34:19-20; Lev 27:26-27; Num 3:12-13, 3:40-59, 8:16-18, 18:15-18)

The Bible’s sacrificial theology 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) This divine decree must be understood in the context of the Passover narrative. In other words, biblical scribes accredited the origin of sacrificing all firstbornRead More

#146. Does Yahweh vindicate the guilty OR not? (Rom 3-4; Gal 3-5 vs Ex 23:7)

“For I shall not vindicate a guilty one!” (Ex 23:7) One of the many gaping theological contradictions between the Old and the New Testaments—between a culture and worldview which existed in the 1st half of the 1st millennium BC and one which existed in the 1st century AD—has to do with who Yahweh vindicates or accords righteousness to. As posted in an earlier entry (#6), Old Testament theology was constructed onRead More

#147. Who writes the laws and commandments on stone tablets: Moses OR Yahweh? (Ex 24:4, 34:28 vs Ex 24:12, 32:16, 34:1)

The traditions relating the giving of the law present both Moses and Yahweh writing them down on stone tablets. If we follow the composite text as it now stands, here is how the occurrences progress. Exodus 24:4 states that “Moses wrote all of Yahweh’s words.” Presumably we are to understand this in its context, that is that Moses wrote down both the Ten Commandments of Exodus 20 and the laws ofRead More

#148. Are sacrifices permitted before the Tabernacle, Altar, and Aaronid priesthood are established and consecrated OR are they not? (Ex 24:4-6 vs Ex 40; Lev 1-10)
#149. Is Moses allowed to perform sacrifices OR are only Aaron and his descendants? (Ex 24:4-6 vs Ex 29:1-9, 19:28-29, 40:12-16; Lev 1-9; Num 25:10-13)

We have now finished examining the contradictions in the Sinai traditions (#129-132, #134-135), and the Elohist’s law code (#137-138, #139-140, #141, #142, etc.) found in the book of Exodus. With the exception of JE material in Exodus 32-34, the remainder of the book of Exodus is from the Priestly source. And the book of Leviticus, our next stop, is also all from the pen of P. What we have seen thusRead More

#150. Are the poles of the Ark not to be removed OR are they? (Ex 25:15 vs Num 4:6)

Exodus 25-31, from the hand of the Priestly writer, is a detailed description of the components of the Tabernacle and all of its equipment and how they are to be constructed, which Moses receives from Yahweh while on Sinai. Likewise, Exodus 35-40 is a detailed account of the construction of the Tabernacle and all of its components per its descriptions. There are a few contradictions in these Priestly passages, but moreRead 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

#155. Does Yahweh command sacrifices during the wilderness period OR not? (Ex 29:38-42; Lev 1-9, 16-17, 23; Num 7, 19:1-10, 28-29 vs Amos 5:25; Jer 7:22, etc.)

In the Priestly literature that we are now looking at, the cult, sacrifices, and maintaining strict ritual and ethical purity were the central concerns and elements of its belief system and worldview. As we’ve already discussed (#148-149, #151, #152) the Priestly writer’s legislation was largely concerned with safeguarding and/or restoring ritual purity and cleanliness, as well as ethical purity and cleanliness, i.e., being blameless or sinless. When an individual came intoRead More

#156. What is written on the stone tablets that are placed in the Ark: the instructions for building the Tabernacle OR the Ten Commandments? (Ex 31:18 vs Ex 24:12, 34:27-28)

In the Priestly tradition, what is engraved upon the stone tablets that are placed in the Ark would appear to be the instructions for building the Tabernacle and all its equipment, which Moses receives from Yahweh while on Sinai (Ex 25-31). And when he finished speaking with him in mount Sinai, he gave the two tablets of the Testimony to Moses, tablets of stone, written by the finger of God. (ExRead More

#157. Is the festival associated with the Golden Calf a festival to Yahweh OR to other gods? (Ex 32:5 vs Ex 32:1, 32:4, 32:8)

The Golden Calf narrative is perhaps one of the most memorable tales from the pen of the Elohist. But the story is not as ancient as one might think. In fact, it most probably was put to pen some time in the 8th or 7th century BC. The specific contradiction presented here is not so much a contradiction between two textual traditions; rather, it is between some apparent inconsistencies in theRead More

#158. Is the people’s gold used for fabricating the Golden Calf OR for the construction of the Ark, Menorah, Tabernacle, and Altar of incense? (Ex 32:2-4, 32:23 vs Ex 25-26, 35:4-24)

Exodus 25-31 and 35-40 clearly stand as a unit. Not only do all of its chapters use the same vocabulary and expressions, but their content is also the same. Exodus 25-31 details instructions for the constructing of the Tent of Meeting and all its components: the Tabernacle, the ark, the table and menorah, the altar, the incense altar, and the garments for the high priest, Aaron. Exodus 35-40 passes over theRead More

#159. The Golden Calf OR the Golden Cherubs? (Ex 32:4 vs Ex 25:18-20, 37:7-9)

This is a continuation of yesterday’s (#158) and the previous day’s entry (#157). In the Priestly literature that now surrounds the Elohist’s Golden Calf story, Yahweh commands Moses to have the Israelites make two golden cherubs, of solid hammered gold. These cherubim moreover sit on top of the Ark’s atonement dais which resides in the inner most shrine of the Tabernacle, the Holy of Holies. And he made two cherubs ofRead More

#160. Does Aaron bring the great sin upon the people OR does he bear the people’s sin and atone for it? (Ex 32:21 vs Ex 28:38-41; Lev 4-5, 16:16, etc.)
#161. Does Yahweh vow to erase Aaron for his sin OR make him his exclusive anointed high priest? (Ex 32:33 vs Ex 28:38-41, 29:6-29, 40:12-16)

The narrative tensions and deep-rooted theological contradictions created when the JE material of Exodus 32-34 is inserted between the Priestly literature of Exodus 25-31 and 35-40 is nowhere more apparent than in its portrait of Aaron. On the one hand, he is the cause of the people’s sin, having fabricated the Golden Calf (#157); and on the other hand, he is the exclusive anointed of Yahweh, consecrated and without sin, theRead More

#162. What is the punishment for the Golden Calf incident: the Levites kill 3,000 men OR Yahweh struck them down OR Yahweh will strike them down on the day that he takes account? (Ex 32:27-28 vs Ex 32:35 vs Ex 32:34)

There are 3 different punishments stated for the sin of the Golden Calf, two of which are ambiguous in nature. The most explicit is that Moses and the Levites kill about 3,000 men: “kill each man his brother, each man his neighbor, and each man his relative.” The text goes a far way to explicitly present the Levites in the favorable role of expiating the sin. In other words, the LevitesRead More

#163. Do the people divest themselves of their jewelry OR not? (Ex 33:6 vs Ex 35:22)

Another contradiction created from the stitching together of the Priestly text of Exodus 35-40 and the Elohist text of Exodus 32-33 has to do with what happens to the people’s jewelry (see also #158). As a result of their sin in the Elohist’s Golden Calf story, Yahweh commands them to divest themselves of their jewelry and to leave it behind. “And the children of Israel divested their jewelry from mount Horeb”Read More

#164. Is the Tent of Meeting in the camp OR outside the camp? (Ex 25:8; Num 1:50-2:32 vs Ex 33:7-11)
#165. When is the Tent of Meeting constructed: on the New Year of the second year from the Exodus OR sometime before that? (Ex 40 vs Ex 33:7)

Et voilà! — More contradictions that resulted from the stitching together of the Elohist text of Exodus 32-33 and the Priestly literature of Exodus 25-31 & 33-40. Honestly, this is not magic. I did not contrive these contradictions. Rather, competing priestly guilds and scribal schools of ancient Israel did, with their different views and beliefs. Not my fault either that readers living centuries later, for reasons endemic to their own historicalRead More

#166. Is Joshua allowed to enter the Tent of Meeting OR are only Aaronid priests? (Ex 33:11 vs Num 1:51, 3:10, 3:38, 18:5-7)

This contradiction continues from the previous two (#164-165), where we saw that the views and perceptions concerning the Tent of Meeting differed radically depending on what source we were looking at, the Elohist or the Priestly source. Here too, the Elohist attaches no priestly, cultic, nor holy and sacred significance to the Tent of Meeting, at least not in the manner in which we find the Aaronid priestly writers doing inRead More

#167. Is Yahweh a god slow to anger OR a god whose anger flares often and erratically? (Ex 34:6; Num 14:18 vs Ex 4:14, 22:23, 32:10; Num 11:1, 11:10, 11:33, 12:9, 22:22, 25:3)

Exodus 34 is the Yahwist’s version of the Ten Commandments, which was treated in an earlier entry, along with the fact that Exodus 34:1 is a lie—Yahweh does not, as the text claims, write the same material on these new tablets of stone that were on the original tablets (#134-135)!  Today’s contradiction treats a different matter and fits in with the Conflicting portraits of Yahweh penned by the Bible’s different authors.Read More

#168. Is the festival of firstfruits the festival of Harvest OR of Weeks? (Ex 23:16 vs Ex 34:22)

There are several different festival calendars in the Bible, each penned by a different author: Exodus 23:24-19 (E), Exodus 34:18-23 (J), Deuteronomy 16:1-17 (D), and Leviticus 23 and Numbers 28-29 (P). We will look at these differences in greater detail later on. Here, I simply note that the spring festival of reaping the first barely crop is variously labeled as the festival of Harvest in the Elohist tradition and the festivalRead More

#169. Yahweh makes a covenant with Israel based on which Ten Commandments? (Ex 24:3-8 vs Ex 34:27)

Both Exodus 24:3-8 and Exodus 34:27 present Yahweh as making a covenant with the children of Israel based on “all of Yahweh’s words (Ex 24:4) and “based on these words” (Ex 34:27). Yet the words, or commandments, referred to in each of these passages, Ex 20:1-23:19 and Exodus 34:14-26 respectively, are not the same—despite the fact that the text claims that they are (Ex 34:1)! This contradiction is an extension ofRead More

#170. Does the action from Exodus 40 to Numbers 7 take place on one day OR not? (Ex 40:2-33; Lev 8; Num 7:1 vs Lev 9; Num 1:1)

And it was in the 1st month, in the 2nd year, on the 1st of the month, the Tabernacle was set up. (Ex 40:17) This is the Priestly writer’s chronology: the cultic institution, around which its whole theology is based, is erected on the New Year’s day of the second year from the Exodus (see also #109-110). Yet, even within the Priestly source there seems to be some discrepancies concerning whatRead More

#171. Was the law of the Sabbath known before Sinai OR was it only given at Sinai? (Ex 16:23-30 vs Ex 23:12, 31:12-17, 35:1-3)

This entry looks to be our last contradiction for the book of Exodus. Like others, this one appears repeatedly in the scholarly literature. The particular textual peculiarity is: While Exodus 31:12-17 and 35:1-3 officially present Yahweh giving the commandment to observe the Sabbath for the first time in P (but in E, already at Ex 23:12), Exodus 16 not only speaks of the Sabbath but presumes that the people already knowRead More

#181. What happens after the Tabernacle is set up and anointed: Moses anoints Aaron and his sons as Yahweh’s priests OR Israel’s tribes make dedication offerings? (Ex 40; Lev 8-9 vs Num 7)
#182. Where did Yahweh appear to the people: at Horeb/Sinai or at the Tent of Meeting? (Ex 19, 34 vs Lev 9:23-25)

That the Tabernacle and the cult are the central most important concerns to the Priestly writers is incontrovertible. Yet within this body of literature itself, there seems to be two different traditions about what transpires on the day that the Tabernacle is established. As previously noted, there is also a chronological discrepancy within the Priestly source (#170). Exodus 40:1, 40:17, Leviticus 1:1, and Numbers 7:1 indicate that all of the actionRead 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

The Festival Calendars (Ex 23:14-17 vs Ex 34:18-26 vs Deut 34:18-26 vs Lev 23 vs Num 28-29)

There are 5 different festival calendars in the Pentateuch, each one originating from a once separate and independent source: Exodus 23:14-17 (from the Elohist source) Exodus 34:18-26 (from the Yahwist) Deuteronomy 16:1-17 (from the Deuteronomist) Leviticus 23 (from the Priestly source, accredited to the Holiness Code) Numbers 28-29 (also from the pen of P) I am presently going through these different calendars and will be posting their contradictions and differences overRead 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

#210 When an indentured Hebrew slave is released is he liberated with his children OR not? (Lev 25:39-41 vs Ex 21:1-4)

The law of the Jubilee year in Leviticus 25 is all encompassing. And you shall consecrate the year that makes 50 years and proclaim liberty throughout the land, to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you! And you shall go back, each to his possession; and you shall go back, each to his family.” (Lev 25:10) In other words, everything is redeemed and restored: possessions; persons, that isRead 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

#212. An impure firstborn animal, particularly an ass, is redeemed with a lamb OR the priest’s appraisal price plus a fifth OR 5 shekels? (Ex 13:13, 34:20 vs Lev 27:27 vs Num 18:15-16)

This contradiction follows from the previous one, #211, and an earlier contradiction dealing with the consecration of all firstborns to Yahweh, #145. All of the Pentateuch’s sources agree that firstborn human males, firstborn male animals, and the firstfruits of the harvest are to be consecrated 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,Read More

#213. Must a firstborn ass that is not redeemed be killed OR sold? (Ex 13:13, 34:22 vs Lev 27:27)

This contradiction should have been added to the previous one, #212, since it goes with it. It deals with the fate of an unredeemed firstling ass. Reiterating the sacrificial theology of all firstborns—humans and animals—found in all of the sources of the Pentateuch, I reproduce again Exodus 13:2. “Consecrate every firstborn for me [Yahweh]. The first birth of every womb of the children of Israel, of a human and of anRead More

#217. What was the organization of the Israelite camp during the wilderness period: no arrangement with the Tent of Meeting outside the camp OR in a circular tribal arrangement around the Tent of Meeting at its center? (Ex 33:7-8; Num 11:26, 12:4 vs Num 2)

This entry will serve as a general introduction to the book of Numbers—75% of which is a continuation of a once independently existing scroll written by the Aaronid priesthood of the exilic and post-exilic periods. In fact, all of the literature from Exodus 35 to Numbers 10:11 is from the pen of this elite priestly guild. This is supported by this literature’s sustained emphasis on the Aaronid priesthood (#152, #153-154, #160-161,Read More

#221. What transpires on the day Moses sets up and anoints the Tabernacle: Aaron and his sons are anointed as Yahweh’s priests and shut in the Tent of Meeting for a 7 day ordination OR Israel’s 12 chieftains present sacrificial offerings to Yahweh, 1 a day for the following 12 days? (Ex 40:1-17; Lev 8-9 vs Num 7)

Numbers 7 claims to narrate events that happened “on the day Moses finished setting up the Tabernacle” (Num 7:1), “on the day it was anointed” (7:10). This, however, presents two particular difficulties—contradictions—when reading, erroneously, these wilderness stories as a single homogeneous, divinely-authored or any single-authored, historical narrative. This is not what our biblical scribes were doing nor saw themselves as doing. Rather, as stressed repeatedly in other posts, these are theRead 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

#226. The Ark of Yahweh: an empty throne seat which served a martial function OR the holy of holies which served a ritual function? (Num 10:33-36, 14:44-45; 1 Sam 4:1-7 vs Ex 25:22, 37:1-9; Lev 16:11-17; Num 4:5-15)

At Numbers 10:33, attributed to J, we are abruptly introduced to a story about the Ark of the covenant of Yahweh, which is portrayed in a very unique role. And it was, when the Ark traveled that Moses said “Arise Yahweh and let your enemies be scattered, and let those who hate you flee from your presence.” (Num 10:35) In this passage, as in others, the Ark of Yahweh is beingRead More

#227. Was there only manna to eat OR not? (Ex 16:35; Num 11:6 vs Ex 12:38, 17:3, 24:5, 34:3; Lev 1-27; Num 7, 9:1-14, 28-29)

Numbers 11—a story about the people’s complaining to Moses that they have no meat to eat, only manna—is part of the murmuring traditions, some of which we have already looked at (#125, #126, #127) and even seen use contradictorily by other biblical scribes (#124). To a large extent the quail story of Numbers 11, where Yahweh responds to the Israelite’s complaining that they have had no meat to eat only mannaRead More