#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

#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

#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

#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

#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

#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

#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