Deuteronomy’s Moses claims that he gives his first speech to the children of Israel, who are assembled before him on the plains of Moab, immediately after the conquest of the kingdoms of Sihon and Og.
After he struck Sihon king of the Amorites who lived in Hesbon and Og king of Bashan who lived in Ashtaroth at Edrei on the opposite side of the Jordan in the land of Moab, Moses began to declare this instruction (torah), saying. . . (Deut 1:4-5)
“This torah” or instruction referred to here is Moses’ forthcoming 1st speech which starts at Deut 1:6 and ends at Deut 4:40. At verse 41 the 3rd person narrator, who presents himself as writing from the other side of the Jordan, that is from Canaan, steps back in.
So according to this textual tradition (the Deuteronomic), immediately following the Transjordanian conquest of the kingdoms of Sihon and Og, Moses delivers “this torah,” that is the speech extending from Deuteronomy 1:6 to 4:40. But as we shall see the author’s claim here does not square with the textual tradition(s) now preserved in Numbers where we first read of the conquest of Sihon and Og (Num 21:21-35). First, the tradition(s) now preserved in Numbers knows of no such torah; that is to say, what Moses presents as renarrated “torah” in Deuteronomy 1:6-4:40 is nowhere to be found in the post-Transjordanian conquest tradition(s) in Numbers. Second, according to the narrative of Numbers 22-36, these are the events that immediately follow the conquest of Sihon and Og, not Moses’ speech or torah!
- The Balaam episode (Num 22-24)
- The apostasy at Baal Peor (Num 25:1-5)
- Phinehas’ zeal and Yahweh’s reward—the granting of the eternal covenant of the priesthood (Num 25:6-19)
- A second census (Num 26)
- The case of Zelophehad’s daughters (Num 27:1-11)
- Yahweh gives the laws pertaining to the sacrificial calendar (Num 28-29)
- Yahweh’s commandments pertaining to vows and oaths (Num 30)
- The Midianite massacre/genocide (Num 31)
- The allotment of Transjordan to Reuben, Gad, and half of Manasseh (Num 32)
- The travel itinerary (Num 33)
- The giving of the borders of Canaan (Num 34)
- The assigning of the Levitical cities (Num 35)
- Amendment concerning Zelophehad’s legacy (Num 36)
As is clear from the list above, there is no mention of a speech by Moses, the “this torah” of Deuteronomy 1:6-4:40, in all of Numbers 21-36. So the author of Deuteronomy’s claim that Moses spoke the content of Deut 1:6-4:40 to the Israelites immediately after the conquest of the kingdoms of Sihon and Og is highly suspicious at best, and a complete fabrication at worst. Moreover, not only was “this torah” of Deuteronomy 1:6-4:40 not delivered at the time when the narrator/author of Deuteronomy claims it to have been delivered, according to the tradition(s) preserved in Numbers 22-36, but it was never delivered at any time in any Pentateuchal tradition outside of the claims of Deuteronomy!
Another piece of textual data to take note of is that all the events/stories from Numbers 22-36 highlighted above in red are never acknowledged nor even mentioned any where in Deuteronomy. As with the list of omissions to Moses’ renarrations of “all that Yahweh commanded” in contradiction #349, these stories/events are likewise never acknowledged by Deuteronomy’s Moses; and in fact, like the omissions in contradiction #349 both the Moses of Deuteronomy and its author do not even know of these events/stories! They are unique to the Priestly source, which had not yet been composed when the author of Deuteronomy sat down to write his text! So his Moses could not have possibly known of these stories! For more on this see Introduction to Deuteronomy and Contradiction #349.
As for the other 3 events/stories above, they are indeed mentioned by Moses in Deuteronomy and not surprisingly these stories were also known to the earlier Yahwist-Elohist traditions. Furthermore when we take out the Priestly material in red above, which was inserted at a later date anyway, the J-E narrative of Numbers now mirrors, more or less, the Deuteronomist’s retelling of this earlier tradition.
Look at the two traditions side-by-side—that is what each tradition on its own claims happened immediately after the kingdoms of Sihon and Og were conquered.
It is apparent that there are two different textual traditions preserved here in the Pentateuch. Furthermore it is also apparent, and will be corroborated in future posts, that the Deuteronomic tradition displays no knowledge of the Priestly traditions preserved in Numbers, as well as the Priestly traditions preserved in all of Leviticus and the ending of Exodus (see contradiction #349). It is also apparent that momentarily omitting this Priestly material from Numbers, the red entries above, we see that the Deuteronomic tradition did follow an earlier tradition with some minor exceptions. For instance the earlier J-E traditions (non-red entries above) speak of the conquest of Sihon and Og and end with the allotment of their territories to the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and half of Manasseh. Given the fact that this was the only textual tradition the author of Deuteronomy had before him when he composed his narrative, it was thus only natural that the later Deuteronomist started his composition at this point in the tradition, which again is apparent from the texts themselves. When the later Priestly material was inserted into the J-E narrative, the Deuteronomic tradition then witnessed an increased number of discrepancies and contradictions when compared to this newly inserted later Priestly material.
In conclusion, the reason why we have a contradiction here—indeed our 350th reason—is because of the editing together of conflating textual traditions, which were written by competing guilds and under drastically different cultural circumstances. Moreover, Deuteronomy’s claim that Moses delivered his 1st speech after the conquest of the kingdoms of Sihon and Og displays the fact that this author/guild—and thus too the Moses of their text—did not possess any knowledge of the stories of a later tradition (P) which were at a later date inserted into the J-E traditions now housed together in Numbers 22-36.
What is to follow in my forthcoming posts are the contradictions created between the Deuteronomist’s Moses’ renarrations in Deuteronomy 1-11 of the stories of the earlier J-E traditions and those originally told in the J-E traditions and the P tradition now preserved in the book of Exodus and Numbers. So in the interim, my readers may wish to compare Moses’ renarration of the selection of the judiciary in Deut 1:9-13 with the earlier telling of the selection of the judiciary in Exodus 18:13-26.
What differences can you spot between these two tellings?