Contradictions in the Bible don’t just exist on the narrative, thematic, and linguistic levels. Many of the contradictions so far listed, especially those within the books of Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy, deal with broader theological and/or ideological differences and contradictory views and beliefs as they existed between the various authors of this corpus of literature we call the Bible.
In this example, we can readily perceive a whole different train of thought and belief system concerning not only the function of the Tent of Meeting, but more so how it was envisioned differently by different scribes or priestly guilds. As mentioned in previous entries in the Elohist source, which is mainly a secular piece of literature, the Tent of Meeting is viewed as no more than an oraculum of sorts sitting outside the encampment where Yahweh communicates with Moses (see #164-165, #166, #217). In Numbers 11:16 Moses brings the 70 elders who were selected as judges (but see #228-229) to the Tent of Meeting to be conferred by Yahweh. This, however, completely negates how the Tent of Meeting was envisioned by the elitist priests who wrote Leviticus and 75% of Numbers. No one but the Aaronid priests were allowed to approach the Tent of Meeting. It was consecrated and holy. Only a consecrated and holy individual, that is an anointed Aaronid priest, could approach the Tent of Meeting. All others, the Yahweh of the Priestly source repeatedly and adamantly stressed would be put to death (Num 3:10, 3:38, 17:28, 18:22)!
The Tent of Meeting, which housed the Tabernacle, Yahweh’s altar, was the central most important component in the Priestly sacrificial cult. It is mentioned more than 100 times in the Priestly literature; and by comparison it is never mentioned in Deuteronomy and only a couple of times in the Elohist source. The Priestly literature spends a whole 13 chapters detailing the components of the Tent of Meeting and their construction (Ex 25-31 & 35-40), spends 2 different chapters discussing the anointing of the Tent of Meeting and its components, along with the anointing of the Aaronid priesthood (Ex 40; Lev 8), spends an entire chapter detailing the sacrificial donations to its dedication ceremony (Num 7), and spends 2 chapters looking at its arrangement and proper care for in the encampment (Num 3-4).
Along similar lines the Priestly source takes a very precise attitude toward this most sacred cultic shrine. It is perceived as not only the place where Yahweh tents his glory, kabod, but a sacred space where only anointed Aaronid priests are permitted entry. Anyone else will be struck down by Yahweh! Even touching the components of the Tent of Meeting, even for other non-Aaronid Levites, meant immediate death (Num 4:15; 18:3, 8:32)! This image is radically different than the one we perceive in the earlier Elohist material, where the Tent of Meeting is not only not located in the center of the camp, but is also a place where Joshua, Moses, and now Israel’s elders are allowed admittance to. This would have been anathema in the Priestly writers and to the Yahweh of the Priestly literature.
My god, where was Phineas for Numbers 11—eating quail?