#33. One patriarchal covenant OR three? (Gen 15:18, 17:1-14, etc. vs Lev 26:42)

A theological staple in all the Pentateuch sources (Yahwist, Elohist, Deuteronomist, and Priestly) is the covenant promise of the land of Canaan to Abraham and his seed, variously given as an unconditional and conditional promise, as we have already seen in #29. Furthermore, this covenant, this one covenant, is then transferred to each successive patriarch and his offspring, i.e., to Isaac, to Jacob, and then finally to Joseph’s sons—all P texts (Gen 28:1-5, 35:9-12,Read More

#43. Is it lawful to marry your sister OR not? (Gen 20:12 vs Lev 18:11, 20:17)

Customs, beliefs, and worldviews change, and with them so too laws—no mystery here. But when we have a so-called “Book” that in actuality is a collection of the laws and narratives that reflected the customs, beliefs, and worldviews of a people (and peoples!) spanning approximately 1,000 years, contradictions are bound to occur. There should be no mystery here either. Thus, reflective of archaic customs shared throughout the ancient Near East, the older Yahwist and Elohist traditionsRead More

#50. Is it lawful to marry your wife’s sister OR not? (Gen 29:28 vs Lev 18:18)

And you shall not take a wife to her sister to rival, to expose her nudity along with her in her lifetime. (Lev 18:18) “To take a wife to rival her sister” and “to expose her nudity” along side her sister’s is the language of wedlock… and of course, sexual intercourse. As we saw in #43, here also this particular contradiction is one that highlights differences between the biblical writers’ cultural viewpointsRead 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

#113. When does the festival of Unleavened Bread begin: on the 14th OR the 15th? (Ex 12:18 vs Lev 23:6; Num 28:17)

There are several different festival calendars in the Pentateuch, and each one originally belonged to a different textual tradition: Ex 23:14-19 (E); Ex 34:18-23 (J); Deut 16:1-17 (D); and Lev 23 and Num 28-29 (P). When compared against each other, one notices minor differences in festival names, their dates of celebration, and even the place where they were to be celebrated. We will look at these contradictions at a later date. Presently, we are onlyRead More

#126. Did the Israelites have meat to eat in the wilderness OR not? (Ex 12:38, 17:3, Lev 8-9; Num 32:1 vs Ex 16:2-3; Num 11:4-6)

Contradictory to the claims made in the quail stories (#125)—namely, that the people did not have any meat to eat and that they would have starved to death if they did not get some meat to eat—the same tradition tells us that they did indeed have a very large and sizable livestock with them. Exodus 12:38 records how the Israelites went up from Egypt with a large livestock. “And a mixedRead 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

#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

#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

#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

#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

#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

#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

#173. If the people sin inadvertently is a bull offered up as a sin-offering OR is a goat offered up as a sin-offering and a bull as a burnt-offering? (Lev 4:13-21 vs Num 15:22-26)

Both of these passages, Leviticus 4 and Numbers 15, were penned by the Aaronid priestly guild. So they may reflect differences within the priesthood that would have naturally arisen over the centuries it existed. It might also be that Numbers 15 was a later amendment to the earlier instruction (torah) of Leviticus 4. Leviticus 4 details the sin or purification offering, and in order of descending urgency: the sin-offering to beRead 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

#175. An individual that has come into contact with an impure animal or human must purge his impurity through sacrifice OR banishment from the community? (Lev 5:2-6 vs Num 5:2-3, 31:19)

As we saw in #173, the Priestly legislation itself bears witness to some minor differences. This one in particular has to do with the stipulation regarding an individual that has come into contact with a corpse—that is, according to the Priestly ideology, an individual that has come into contact with an impurity. Since according to the Priestly theological worldview, the camp, wherein Yahweh dwelt among the people (#151), was conceived asRead 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

#180. Did Yahweh command Moses about sacrifices at Sinai OR from the Tent of Meeting? (Lev 7:38 vs Lev 1:1)

The book of Leviticus, although written by a single priestly guild—the Aaronides—does nonetheless exhibit editorial reworkings and insertions of texts most likely written at different periods. Two traditions seem to be intertwined in the opening chapters of Leviticus—one which acknowledges that the sacrificial law code was given at mount Sinai, and one which stipulates that it was given to Moses at the Tent of Meeting. Indeed one could argue that theRead 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

#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

#184. Who can declare an individual “pure/clean”: the Aaronid priest OR Jesus? (Lev 12-15, 18-20 vs Mark 1:21-28; Luke 4:31-37; Mark 1:40-45; Matthew 8:1-4; Luke 5:12-16, etc.)

“And the priest shall identify him/her as pure.” As previously noted (#183), the whole belief system, social organization, and worldview created by the Aaronid priests who wrote the scrolls that eventually became the book of Leviticus were intricately constructed upon categories of pure and impure, and these categories were woven into, according to this priestly guild and its god, the very fabric of the cosmos itself, of its metaphysics, at itsRead More

#185. What is the punishment for a man who lies with a menstruating women: he merely becomes impure himself OR he is “cut off” from the community? (Lev 15:24 vs Lev 20:18)

Ah, the menstruating woman… what is to be done with her? As we have already previewed (#175, #178, #183, #184), in the priestly sacred world, all bodily emissions are deemed impure—whether that be saliva, puss, urine, semen, or blood—and the “infected” individual must undergo a process of regaining his/her state of purity. In Leviticus this usually involved being quarantined off from the community for 7 days, a washing of one’s clothesRead 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

#191. Who are deemed holy: all the Israelites OR only the Aaronid priests? (Lev 19:2 vs Lev 8; Num 3)

The book of Leviticus is a tough one to get through — my apologies again. I list this contradiction because it is often noted in the scholarly literature. As mentioned briefly in previous entries (#175, #185), critics have noticed two main layers of priestly material in the book of Leviticus, both of which were written by the Aaronid priestly guild. There is the literature that is P proper, Leviticus 1-16, andRead 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

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

#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

#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