#299. Does Yahweh make an eternal covenant with the Aaronid priesthood via Phinehas OR with the Levitical priesthood in general OR with only the Zadokite line OR with the Davidic line OR with Jesus Christ via Melchizedek? (Num 25:6-13 vs Deut 18:1-5, 33:8-10; 1 Sam 2:28; Jer 33:18-22; Mal 2:4 vs 1 Sam 2:35; Ezek 40:46, 43:19, 44:15-16 vs Ps 110:4 vs Heb 7:11-25)

As a collection of diverse writings spanning roughly a thousand years, the Bible itself bears witness to the internecine priestly rivalries that plagued ancient Israel, and in one case even extended into the Christian era. And as is apparent from this entry’s title, each of these competing priestly guilds wrote a text whose purpose was to legitimate their guild’s right to be Yahweh’s sole anointed priests forever. In this rather lengthyRead More

#297. Who led the Israelites to worship Baal of Peor: the Moabites OR the Midianites? (Num 25:1-2 vs Num 25:16-18, 31:15-16)
#298. What was their punishment: they were impaled OR killed by plague (Num 25:4-5 vs Num 25:8, 25:18)

As noted previously (#287), the Balaam pericope (Num 22-24) and the Baal Peor apostasy (Num 25) both present a viable Moabite force in northern Moab, contradictory to the traditions preserved in the Yahwist which spoke of an Amorite presence and Amorite territory. See also #282-285. Similarly, the present story of the Israelites’ apostasy and attachment to the cult of Baal at Peor clashes pretty heavily with the rather positive presentation ofRead More

#294. To which god was Balaam subservient: Yahweh OR El? (Num 23:8, 23:26 vs Num 23:8)
#295. By which god was Israel blessed: Yahweh OR El? (Num 24:1 vs Num 24:4)
#296. Who liberated the Israelites from Egypt: Yahweh OR El? (Ex 20:21; Lev 19:36, 23:43; Deut 5:6, 13:10, etc. vs Num 23:22, 24:8)

In contradiction #27—Is Yahweh and El the same god or different gods? (which has become one of my most visited posts)—I not only laid out the biblical evidence suggesting that Yahweh and El were variously viewed as the same deity on several occasions, while in a few rare instances as two distinct deities, but I also summarized the scholarly evidence for the claim that (some of ?) the early Israelites actuallyRead More

#293. Has Yahweh not found iniquity in Israel OR has he? (Num 23:21 vs Num 21:5-9, 25:1-18)

Another textual indicator that the Balaam pericope derives from a different source than its surrounding material is its radically contrary depiction of Yahweh (or El) towards Israel and of Israel itself. In Balak’s second attempt to extract from Balaam a divine curse against Israel, Balaam comes back with these words from Yahweh, or El (see forthcoming). He has not beheld iniquity in Jacob, and neither has he seen any evil inRead More

#292. Who comes forth against Balaam as a satan: an angel of Yahweh OR Yahweh himself? (Num 22:22, 22:32 vs Num 22:32)

I throw this one out there for its provocative effect—to allow us to think about the relationship between 3 figures as they were depicted and understood by ancient Israelite scribes: Yahweh, Yahweh’s angel, and satan (literally without definite article, ‘an adversary’). Although the Balaam story is pretty clear and adamant about the fact that it is Yahweh’s angel (malak) who comes out as “satan” or an adversary against Balaam, a caseRead More

#291. Does Balaam wish to curse Israel and is prevented by Yahweh OR does he not wish to curse Israel? (Deut 23:5-6; Josh 24:9-10; Neh 13:2; 2 Pet 2:15; Jude 1:11; Rev 2:14 vs Num 22:22-35)

The narrative of Numbers 22-24 never presents nor implies that Balaam wishes to harm or curse Israel. To the contrary, Balaam is presented as a loyal vassal of Yahweh, and when on three separate occasions Balak asks Balaam to pronounce curses upon Israel, Balaam refuses saying that he can only utter that which his god—Yahweh—has placed in his own mouth. Indeed, Balaam even refers to Yahweh as “my god,” which mightRead More

#290. Does Yahweh permit Balaam to depart OR not? (Num 22:20 vs Num 22:22)

This contradiction is typically cited in the scholarly literature, although for my part it doesn’t seem all too problematic, nor even relevant. It does create for some interesting narrative tension however. Scholars who note this contradiction usually argue that the story about Balaam and his talking ass come from a different tradition. In either case, Yahweh’s pronouncement that Balaam should go with the king’s men in Num 22:20 and Yahweh’s angerRead More