#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

#262. Where did the Waters of Meribah happen: in the wilderness of Sinai or Zin? (Ex 17:2-7 vs Num 20:2-13)
#263. Do the people quarrel with Moses OR Moses and Aaron? (Ex 17:2 vs Num 20:2)
#264. Is Moses commanded to strike the rock or speak to it? (Ex 17:6 vs Num 20:8)
#265. Was Yahweh’s holiness affirmed OR not (Num 20:13 vs Num 20:12)

The present contradictions concerning the story of the Waters of Meribah should be seen in the broader context of other duplicate stories from the wilderness tradition (e.g., #125, #127, #128, #171, etc.), which were redacted together centuries after these once independent versions circulated as oral and/or written stories in differing cultural settings and time periods, and for different purposes. What many modern “readers” fail to acknowledge is that storytelling was partRead 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

#259. Are the dead impure OR not? (Lev 21:11; Num 19:11-16 vs Mk 5:36-41, 15:46; Matt 9:23-27; Lk 8:41-49; Acts 9:37, etc.)

I’ve long wished to examine the competing if not radically contradictory views on the dead (i.e., a dead body, corpse) between the Priestly writer and later New Testament writers. The problem is finding specific verses in the New Testament that do contradict P’s rather clear and inflexible stance on the dead, specifically as it comes through in Numbers 19. Nonetheless, even if my choice of NT verses in this contradiction areRead 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

#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

#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