#155. Does Yahweh command sacrifices during the wilderness period OR not? (Ex 29:38-42; Lev 1-9, 16-17, 23; Num 7, 19:1-10, 28-29 vs Amos 5:25; Jer 7:22, etc.)


In the Priestly literature that we are now looking at, the cult, sacrifices, and maintaining strict ritual and ethical purity were the central concerns and elements of its belief system and worldview. As we’ve already discussed (#148-149, #151, #152) the Priestly writer’s legislation was largely concerned with safeguarding and/or restoring ritual purity and cleanliness, as well as ethical purity and cleanliness, i.e., being blameless or sinless.

When an individual came into contact with something prohibited by the law code, such as a dead animal, a menstruating woman, a leprous man, unclean food, etc., that individual needed to restore his state of purity, since for the Priestly writer Yahweh dwelt among the people (#151). Often ritual and ethical purity were restored by bathing in water and being set aside from the community for a certain period of time. Additionally, the impure or contaminated individual would have to go to the Aaronid priest and have his uncleanliness or sin expiated through a sacrifice. Sacrifice was the only means to atone for sin in the Priestly system.

Most modern Christians don’t really understand sacrifice—amazing since apparently their whole Christology is built on the ideology of sacrifice. And frankly speaking, how could they? Sacrifice reflects the ideas, beliefs, and worldviews of peoples living millennia ago—and ditto that for the whole Bible!

In the ancient world, sacrifices were performed to/for one’s god for a number of reasons. In fact, the most common reason for performing a sacrifice was in order to eat meat! In both the Levitical and Deuteronomic law code if a family wished to eat one of Yahweh’s sacrificial animals—sheep, goat, or oxen—they had to take that animal to the priest and have it ritually sacrificed (Lev 17; Deut 12). Furthermore, both of these law codes command that “all fat is Yahweh’s.” No one is allowed to eat the fat. The fat of any animal slaughtered for consumption had to be ritually burnt on Yahweh’s altar for Yahweh, and so too its blood.

Other forms of sacrifices in the book of Leviticus include: sacrifices that expiated an individual’s or the community’s sin—a sort of ritual transference of the sin onto the sacrificial animal. And then there were the whole burnt-offerings—sacrifices of whole animals to Yahweh, burnt on his altar. The peace-offering was the form of sacrifice used when eating meat was involved. It was seen as a sacrificial meal between humans and god. Yahweh always gets his portion. In sum, sacrifice is what mediated between the divine and human realms, a communion, a link between the earthly and heavenly spheres. One readily sees the central importance of the priest in such a worldview, and, as spoken of earlier, why there were no prophets in the Priestly literature (#153-154). That is, in other traditions it is the prophet who functions as mediator between god Yahweh and the people, but not in the Priestly system.

Thus sacrifices were the central fixture to the Priestly cult. The sacrificial system and its ability to atone for sins and breaches of uncleanliness were woven into the very fabric of creation itself. Something I tried to highlight in discussing the Priestly creation account (#1).

The tāmîd, or continual-offering, is the first sacrifice mentioned in the Priestly literature (Ex 29:38-42). It was the daily sacrifices—one in the morning and one in the evening. This, our Priestly author has Yahweh command as an eternal law! Every day, twice a day, a year-old unblemished (ritually and ethically pure) lamb was sacrificed as a whole burnt-offering to Yahweh.

There are numerous other sacrifices that are commanded by Yahweh in the Priestly wilderness narrative as well. There are the sacrifices of bulls, rams, and lambs in Leviticus 8-9 which celebrates the anointing of Aaron and his sons as Yahweh’s priests, and the inauguration of the Tabernacle—on the New Year! There are the ritual laws of Leviticus 1-7 which outline the various sacrifices to be preformed when an individual or the community sins. The Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur, literally day of purification) is commanded to be performed once a year in Leviticus 16. The numerous sacrifices for each of the appointed times is given in Leviticus 23 and Numbers 28-29.

And my favorite, the donation sacrifices of Numbers 7, where each tribe brings forth: 1 bull, 1 ram, and 1 lamb for a burnt-offering; 1 goat for a sin-offering; and 2 oxen, 5 rams, 5 he-goats, and 5 one-year old lambs for a peace-offering! Let’s see that’s 12 tribes, so that yields a sacrificial ceremony consisting of: 12 bulls, 24 oxen, 72 rams, 72 lambs, and 72 goats! —all done on a single day, “the day Moses finished setting up the Tabernacle.” At roughly 14 hours of daylight, that’s sacrificing 18 animals per hour! And these are the same people that cried that they apparently had no meat to eat!?! (see #126). See how the assembly of different texts and traditions actually created the very contradictions we’re looking at!

Yet contrary to this body of Priestly literature, there are other traditions now preserved in the Bible that have Yahweh say the complete opposite, that he did not command sacrifices in the wilderness! These traditions stand in utter contradiction to the whole Priestly corpus.

Thus saith Yahweh of hosts, god of Israel: “Add your burnt-offerings to your sacrifices, and eat the flesh. For in the day that I brought your ancestors out of the land of Egypt, I did not speak to them or command them concerning burnt-offerings and sacrifices”. (Jer 7:22)

“Did you bring me sacrifices and offerings the forty years in the wilderness, O house of Israel?” (Amos 5:25)

As we saw in contradiction #124, here too we see the literary technique employed. Both the Priestly writer and the author of these prophetic traditions use Yahweh as a mouthpiece to express their own beliefs and views! And these beliefs and views are at odds with each other. Yes, Yahweh clearly did command burnt-offerings and sacrifices for the forty years of the wilderness period and beyond, as we just surveyed above.

On a more speculative note, the author of Jeremiah, possibly even Jeremiah himself, seems to strike out rather vehemently against an unidentified scribal guild or community. He does this by proclaiming, in the name of Yahweh, that this scribal guild’s literature is a falsehood and full of lies!

How can you say, “We are wise, and the laws (torahs) of Yahweh is with us,” when in fact the false pen of the scribes has made it into a lie? (Jer 8:8)

Against the judgement of many of my colleagues who think that Jeremiah is writing against the Deuteronomic scribes, I am inclined to think that Jeremiah is reacting against the Priestly corpus of literature and in general disagrees with their whole sacrificial ideology and cultic system. Remember also that there is no place for prophets in P’s cultic system. Rather the priests are the mediators.

Thus, Jeremiah’s distaste for the idea of Yahweh having commanded sacrifices in the wilderness period might have been a direct attack against what the Priestly literature was, contradictorily, claiming. Indeed, this body of literature, at least how it was viewed by the Aaronid priest Ezekiel, blamed laxness and corruption in the sacrifices as the reason why Yahweh let the Babylonians destroy Judah and the Temple in 587 BC (Ez 44). For the Deuteronomist, the reason was idolatry!

This is just one small example of how different authors of what later became the Bible disagreed with each other’s beliefs and ideologies and even wrote texts to defame those beliefs, as Jeremiah clearly does here. Remember the Priestly writer’s defamation of Moses by calling him “uncircumcised of lips” (#93). Or as we will shortly see, the Elohist’s defamation of Aaron by presenting him as the culprit responsible for the Golden Calf sin. Modern readers who mistakenly “read” these texts as a homogeneous divinely-inspired story are grossly negligent of these very texts themselves and their authors and their beliefs. Rather, they have come to “read”—if we can even call it that—these texts through later reader-oriented and imposed interpretive frameworks, the most persuasive of which goes by the name “the Holy Book”—a complete fabrication by a generation of readers living centuries after these texts were written. For more on this see What is the Bible?

28 thoughts on “#155. Does Yahweh command sacrifices during the wilderness period OR not? (Ex 29:38-42; Lev 1-9, 16-17, 23; Num 7, 19:1-10, 28-29 vs Amos 5:25; Jer 7:22, etc.)

  1. Jer 17:

    19 Thus said the Lord to me: Go and stand in the People’s Gate, by which the kings of Judah enter and by which they go out, and in all the gates of Jerusalem, 20 and say to them: Hear the word of the Lord, you kings of Judah, and all Judah, and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, who enter by these gates. 21 Thus says the Lord: For the sake of your lives, take care that you do not bear a burden on the sabbath day or bring it in by the gates of Jerusalem. 22 And do not carry a burden out of your houses on the sabbath or do any work, but keep the sabbath day holy, as I commanded your ancestors. 23 Yet they did not listen or incline their ear; they stiffened their necks and would not hear or receive instruction.

    24 But if you listen to me, says the Lord, and bring in no burden by the gates of this city on the sabbath day, but keep the sabbath day holy and do no work on it, 25 then there shall enter by the gates of this city kings[g] who sit on the throne of David, riding in chariots and on horses, they and their officials, the people of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and this city shall be inhabited forever. 26 And people shall come from the towns of Judah and the places around Jerusalem, from the land of Benjamin, from the Shephelah, from the hill country, and from the Negeb, bringing burnt offerings and sacrifices, grain offerings and frankincense, and bringing thank offerings to the house of the Lord. 27 But if you do not listen to me, to keep the sabbath day holy, and to carry in no burden through the gates of Jerusalem on the sabbath day, then I will kindle a fire in its gates; it shall devour the palaces of Jerusalem and shall not be quenched.


    Thus saith Yahweh of hosts, god of Israel: “Add your burnt-offerings to your sacrifices, and eat the flesh. For in the day that I brought your ancestors out of the land of Egypt, I did not speak to them or command them concerning burnt-offerings and sacrifices”. (Jer 7:22)

    what is the difference between bringing “burnt offerings…to the house of the lord” and
    “i did not speak/command them concerning burnt-offerings…”

    is this an internal contradiction within the text?

  2. For example:




    justin m. fuhrmann*

    Deuteronomy has been hailed one of the most important theological works

    in the OT, both in terms of its place in the canon and its place in Jewish and

    Christian traditions and practices. It stands between the promise of land to

    the patriarchs (Gen 17:18–21) and its fulfillment in the conquest and United

    Monarchy. The material in the so-called parenetic section (Deut 5–11) presents

    the great statements of Jewish faith, the Decalogue (Deut 5:6–21) and

    the shema (6:4–5), which are both upheld in the NT teachings of Jesus

    (cf. Matt 22:37–38; Mark 12:29–30; et al.). This significance is particularly

    highlighted in Deuteronomy 6–8, which emphasizes the themes of promise

    (6:3, 10; 7:8–9, 12, 14; 8:1, 18) and fulfillment (6:3, 10–11, 18–19, 23; 7:1, 13–

    15, 22–24; 8:7–10), and functions as an exposition upon the Decalogue and

    its positive restatement in the shema.

    Since the nineteenth century, however, Deuteronomy, and chapters 6–8

    in particular, have come under attack by higher critical scholars. Although

    the book presents itself as Mosaic, that is, speeches given by Moses to Israel

    before crossing the Jordan River and entering the promised land (Deut 1:1),

    scholars since W. M. L. de Wette (1805) have sought a Josianic date (c. 622/

    621 bc) due to (1) 2 Kgs 22:8’s reference to “the book of the law,” which only

    appears in Deuteronomy among the books of the Torah (Deut 28:58, 61; 31:26;

    cf. Josh 1:8); (2) the centralization of worship reflected in Deuteronomy 6–

    8, 12 and Josiah’s reforms (2 Kgs 23:4–5); (3) the prohibition against foreign

    altars, idols, pillars, and Asherim (Deut 7:5; 12:3; 16:22; 2 Kgs 23:4–20);

    (4) references to astral worship in both Deuteronomy and Josiah’s reforms

    (Deut 4:19; 17:3; 2 Kgs 23:4–5); (5) connections between the Passover of

    Deuteronomy 16 and 2 Kgs 23:21–23; 2 Chronicles 30; (6) the evaluation of

    Josiah in light of Deut 6:5 (cf. 2 Kgs 23:25); and (7) similarities in language

    between the Neo-Assyrian Vassal Treaty of Esharhaddon (c. 672 bc), the

    seventh- and eighth-century prophets (Hosea, Jeremiah, 2 Isaiah, Ezekiel),

    the Deuteronomistic history (Joshua, Judges, 1–2 Samuel, 1–2 Kings), and

    the wisdom literature (Proverbs).

    In light of these attacks, this paper seeks a more plausible context for

    Deuteronomy 6–8 due to its importance within the book and its significance

    * Justin M. Fuhrmann is a doctoral candidate in NT at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School,

    2065 Half Day Road, Deerfield, IL 60015.

    journal of the evangelical 38 theological society

    within Jewish and Christian traditions.1 After first surveying the history

    of interpretation and providing critical assessment, we shall offer a positive

    proposal, arguing the Decalogue (Deut 5:6–21)2 and the covenant ratification

    ceremony at Sinai (Exodus 24)3 offer a more plausible context. Rather

    than viewing these similarities as later (seventh-century) dependency on an

    earlier (tenth- or ninth- century) JE exodus tradition, I shall argue that these

    similarities demand a similar Mosaic context, especially in light of Deuteronomy’s

    Mosaic claims. Furthermore, similarities with later OT literature

    (prophets, historical books, wisdom literature) suggest dependency on Deuteronomy;

    the authors of these texts utilized the Mosaic Deuteronomy to

    shape their later writings.

    i. history of interpretation

    The history of interpretation can be divided into four distinct, yet overlapping,

    phases: (1) the emergence of source criticism in Deuteronomy

    (W. M. L. de Wette to G. von Rad); (2) traditio-historical criticism and ancient

    Near Eastern treaty forms; (3) the emergence of the Deuteronomistic

    history (DtrH) and its aftermath; and (4) literary criticism. We shall treat

    each of these phases individually, and then present additional problems in

    regard to Deuteronomy 6–8, which do not follow the overall trend of each


    1. The emergence of source criticism in Deuteronomy.

    a. W. M. L. de Wette (1805). According to Gerhard von Rad, “[M]ethodical

    scholarly research” in Deuteronomy began with W. M. L. de Wette’s 1805

    Dissertatio Critica-Exegetica qua Deuteronomium a Prioribus Pentateuchi

    Libris Diversum.”4 Prior to this, critical scholars studied Deuteronomy under

    the parameters of the Yahwist (J) and Elohist (E) documents of the Pentateuch.

    Following J. Astruc’s (1753) division of Genesis into these two documents,

    J. G. Eichhorn (1781) applied the two sources to the Pentateuch as a

    whole.5 De Wette, however, was dissatisfied with the results of this approach.

    He argued that Deuteronomy was different from the rest the Pentateuch in

    1 Since our analysis is limited to Deuteronomy 6–8, any conclusions we make are limited, especially

    in regard to the dating of Deuteronomy as a whole.

    2 There is much debate over numbering the ten commandments. Jewish tradition views 5:6 as

    the first commandment; Lutheran and Catholic traditions view 5:7–10 as the first commandment;

    and Reformed and Wesleyan traditions view 5:7 as the first commandment and 5:8–10 as the second

    commandment. For the purposes of this paper, 5:6 shall be considered the prologue; 5:7 the first

    commandment; and 5:8–10 the second commandment.

    3 In Deuteronomy, Sinai is always called Horeb (Richard Elliot Friedman, The Bible with

    Sources Revealed: A New View into the Five Books of Moses [San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco,

    2003] 309).

    4 Gerhard von Rad, Deuteronomy: A Commentary (OTL; Philadelphia: Westminster, 1966) 11.

    5 Bill T. Arnold, “Pentateuchal Criticism, History of,” in Dictionary of the Old Testament: Pentateuch

    (ed. David W. Baker and T. Desmond Alexander; Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 2003) 622–31.

  3. You know of course that you are going to get in trouble around here or just ignored…watch your back! (;~))

  4. Love is more than emotion and feeling; rather, it concerns
    covenant faithfulness and loyalty to Yahweh through obedience to the commands,
    as is typical of expressions of love in ancient Near Eastern treaty
    formulations.96 When modified by the expressions “heart,” “soul,” and “might,”
    bh”a “emphasizes in the strongest possible terms the total commitment and
    whole-hearted devotion to be shown towards YHWH.”97 There is no time when
    the commands of Yahweh are not to be on the hearts and lips of Yahweh’s
    children; they are to “talk about them” whether at home or on the road,
    from the time they wake in the morning to the time they lie down at night
    (Deut 6:7). Even more drastic is the need to have physical reminders on the
    city gates, the doorposts of their houses, and even their bodies (Deut 6:8–9).98
    The covenant exclusivity demanded by the Decalogue and the shema demands
    drastic loyalty and love.
    This reality is further demonstrated in Deut 6:10–19 in conjunction with
    references to the Decalogue in Deut 6:12, 14, 15, and 18. Though the term
    bh”a is not used in 6:10–19, other similar verbal expressions are used, which
    express in greater detail, what it means to love Yahweh: hk”v…(“forget,” 6:12),
    ar’y;(“fear,” 6:13), db”[:(“worship,” 6:13), [b”v…(“swear,” 6:13), ˚l”h:(“follow,” 6:14),
    hs”n;(“test,” 6:16), rm”c…(“do,” 6:18), and hcæ[:(“possess,” 6:18).99 Loving Yahweh
    demands that the people not forget Yahweh and follow after other gods,
    but that they revere Yahweh by serving Yahweh alone and swearing upon
    Yahweh’s name (Deut 6:12–14). Loving Yahweh demands that the people
    not test Yahweh, but that they keep Yahweh’s commands and decrees and
    do what is good and right (Deut 6:16–18). The alternation between the second
    singular and second plural, which is prominent in this section, signifies that
    loving Yahweh demands both communal and individual responsibility. Likewise,
    the two references to instructing future generations (Deut 6:7, 20–25)
    that frame this section emphasize the central terms for loving Yahweh (Deut
    6:10–19). Moses highlights the primary characteristics of what it means to
    love Yahweh, both now and for all future generations: The people must serve
    Yahweh alone by keeping the law and remembering Yahweh’s past deeds
    (Deut 6:12–13, 17–18), forsake all other gods (Deut 6:14), and refuse to question
    Yahweh’s faithfulness in keeping the promises given to the ancestors
    (Deut 6:10–11, 16, 18–19). A third emphasis is given through the use of conditional
    elements; those who are faithful will receive Yahweh’s blessings
    (Deut 6:18–19; cf. 5:10, 16), while those who fail to show love will be destroyed
    “from the face of the land” (Deut 6:15; cf. 5:9).


  5. yhwh replied :
    [for Yahweh shows] love
    to a thousand generations of those who love [Yahweh] and keep [Yahweh’s]
    commandments” (Deut 5:10).

    you better drop jesus and start to do the ritualistic commands of yhwh with body.

  6. “Jesus ‘ Death saved us from the Devil. I really think it is an insult to Him to think that a ham sandwich can harm your soul. God’s Law is the Ten Commandments, Moses Law was given to ‘teach’ God’s Law “until the Seed came”. Then Jesus gave us His Law, written in Blood…”Love your neighbor as you love yourself”. ”

    when yhwh says to his children not to eat pig i think yhwh meant it. it seems that the diffierent voices in the torah make ritualistic laws co equal to moral laws.

    look, i will help you see the light

    your jebus requires that one should love your god with mind, body and soul

    how do you love yhwh with body? obviously by not eating what he told you not to eat.

    christianity had ebionite jesus which said that obediance to the law saved from the devil

    christians like you need to look at the result of textual critics before you can give interpretation on the variant which textual critic THINKS went back to matthew, mark luke and john.

  7. “Most of the Jews failed to recognize this., as they failed to recognize the Messiah, and still do today. Paul’s Gospel was given to him directly through the Holy Spirit. Paul is the embodiment of Christianity. He did whatever he had to do to wean the Jews off Moses’ teat and to Save their souls. Even “act like a Jew to Save a Jew”.”

    this holy spirit pagan god was the same god who gave the jews hard to keep ritualistic laws? when reading the torah, it seems that yhwh likes animal blood and flesh and at times human child sacrifices ( thom starks reply to hess on jephtas daughter here http://thomstark.net/copan/stark_copan-review.pdf). what i want to know is when did yhwh have a change of heart and make adult blood and flesh for himself? i thought animal kebab experience was more tasty? yhwh in the torah also smokes animal flesh. how can you read a human adult human blood and flesh into any ot animal sacrifices?

    paul was, according to what he wrote about himself a persecutor . one can read his letters and find no place about forgiveness without violent punishment. maybe he carried his pre christian conversion into his theological beliefs i.e a diety must violently beat the shit out of himself before he could forgive?

  8. Dear Laura,

    certainly we are all still able to give our opinions and when a shared a few of mine, it was not intended to offend in any way.

  9. Yes indeed. The OT boils down to One “Spiritual” Law. Most of the Jews failed to recognize this., as they failed to recognize the Messiah, and still do today. Paul’s Gospel was given to him directly through the Holy Spirit. Paul is the embodiment of Christianity. He did whatever he had to do to wean the Jews off Moses’ teat and to Save their souls. Even “act like a Jew to Save a Jew”. Yet, they still killed (legally) all the apostles (except John) as they killed (legally) all the prophets of the OT. The Temple being destroyed is not some ‘technicality”. In fact when it is restored, and all the OT laws restored, then the Anti-Christ will ‘stand in the Holy Place”. This whole HRM and Restoration Movement will bring the Anti-Christ to power. They think it will ‘bring Jesus back”. In fact it will, but not until the Anti-Christ comes first, and I wouldn’t want to be in the group that makes that happen. I think it will also cause the ‘great falling away”. I chat with Messianic Jews on the Jews for Jesus website sometimes. One said that her heart was cold as ice when she practiced Judaism and tried to keep the Mosaic Laws, but was ‘circumcised’ when accepted that Jesus was indeed the prophesized Messiah. The pressure of being ‘religious’ instead of having a ‘relationship’ with the Spirit hardened her heart. This was Paul’s theology.

  10. Jesus ‘ Death saved us from the Devil. I really think it is an insult to Him to think that a ham sandwich can harm your soul. God’s Law is the Ten Commandments, Moses Law was given to ‘teach’ God’s Law “until the Seed came”. Then Jesus gave us His Law, written in Blood…”Love your neighbor as you love yourself”. It’s of the heart, soul and Spirit, not anything written on paper with ink.. If the written ordinances were meant to be kept forever they too would have been written in stone and placed ‘inside’ the Ark and not outside of it. I believe ordinances are subject to change as mankind progresses, what makes us different than the animals, we are able to reason, invent, think, learn. We have more knowledge and facilities than in the Biblical days. It’s absurd to me to think they were frozen in time. And a lot of them can only be kept if you live in Israel, and Jesus Died for all the nations, not just Israel. What about his verse: 17And He said to him, “Why are you asking Me about what is good? There is only One who is good; but if you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.” 18Then he said to Him, “Which ones?” And Jesus said, “YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT MURDER; YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY; YOU SHALL NOT STEAL; YOU SHALL NOT BEAR FALSE WITNESS; 19HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER; and YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.” I think the whole Hebrew Roots Movement is full of themselves and leading people astray. That’s my opinion.

    1. Laura,

      Careful. It looks like much of what you’re claiming here is a reflection of Paul’s thoughts and beliefs. I’m not particularly going to challenge you in these beliefs—that’s really not what I do—but as a biblical scholar I’m more interested in learning why Paul believed this and how he arrived at this theology. So much with my treatment of the Hebrew Bible, I keep the conversation geared toward the texts and the cultural contexts that produced them. So even though later NT writers believed this and substantiated those beliefs by citing passages from the Hebrew Bible, none of the authors of the texts of the Hebrew Bible actually endorsed such a theology. As you said, nothing is static. So we should appreciate the fact that this collection of texts represents multiple and often competing theologies and changing belief systems. So as I read and try to understand Paul’s theology on his own terms, thus also I attempt to read and understand the author of Leviticus for example on his terms—not through the lens of later theological constructs found in the NT, or imposed by what is implied in the label “the Holy Bible.”

      But I’m actually responding for a different reason. Given our previous discussion on the sacrificial legislation from the book of Leviticus, your quote above—“Love your neighbors as yourself”—is from Leviticus! (Lev 19:18). So it seems we have a bit of an interesting conundrum: in the very law code that you or later theology wants to toss away there exists the one Law that, apparently, all Torah boils down to. Hmm. . . now you have to admit, that’s food for thought there!

  11. Laura, it sounds like you are talking to a non-Jewish Messianic like me. You cannot keep everything since there is no Temple. The sacrificial system pictured His ultimate sacrifice and does not constitute something for Jew or non Jew to do. But what you can do, do it. For instance it is not hard to eat clean food. It is better for you than the animals (pigs, catfish, et al) that are given to us for other purposes than to be on our plates. Jesus did not free you from keeping the Law. He kept it and died for all of us who could not and would not keep it and proved, among other things, that we too could now keep it when He rose from the grave.

    Ignorance of the Law of Moses is not an option. It comprises the first 5 books of the 66 that today’s believers call the Holy Bible. Holy means set apart. Set apart time each day to read it, and study and memorize it and meditate on it out of love for Him that will enable you to follow and obey Him and to demonstrate, in so doing, that with tangible acts of charity for your fellowman that you are keeping “Torah”.

    Are you keeping the 4th commandment? That is a good place to start and is probably the easiest and most profound way to say to the world that you serve the God of Creation (John, the first gospel, for example).

    Shalom! (;~))

  12. “Novice in Hebrew” is an understatement. You claim you go to other sources, and “colleagues” for your perspectives. So what source gave you that warped, mistranslation of Jeremiah 8:8? The only place on the planet that mangles this verse like you did, is here, done by you.

    Was it done to make your comment about Jeremiah being at odds with some priestly guild look creditable?

    Steve you have to do more than just quote a scripture out of context here (and misquote it at that) and take another there and induce them into your infantile biblical historical ‘rewrite’ of history (you call it ‘biblical scholarship’)…and like I said, and do so to try and make sense of your mangled worldview. Everything you said is 180 degrees out of phase, but “so what else is new?”

    “What else” now includes the fact that “torah” in Jeremiah 8:8 is in the singular. “torahs”???? Like I said, FIND AND GIVE ATTRIBUTION TO THE TRANSLATION THAT YOU HAD TO HAVE NOT JUST ‘misquoted’ or mistranslated, but at best, had a ‘typo attack’ in so doing when you posted it above in your “contradiction” piece.

    Since when does ANY PLACE in the English language translations of the Bible come up with a phrase like, “and the laws (torahs) of Yahweh is with us…”

    TORAHS IS with us?????

    How can literally ANYTHING you say be found creditable when you purposefully mistranslate simple Hebrew and then don’t even use proper grammar in the process? Jeremiah didn’t talk like this!

    You ought to break down and proof read your garbage before you post it so that you don’t further insult us with your complete lack of Hebrew skills and apparently being “non compis mentis” when it comes to grammar as well. That is, unless you were just showing your distain and contempt through your purposeful carelessness.

    And that would not surprise me. The reason you can find so many so-called contradictions is that you cynically take everything out of context. And you do that with your cherry picking a verse here, another there approach which can turn everything on it’s head while you take a “willingly ignorant, oh, I’m just a novice” stance that you try to embellish with your plagiarism of 19th century German “higher critical” atheism.

    Jeremiah and Amos and all the Hebrew prophets railed against the thinking of the people of Israel which they clung to; that by conducting the “proper sacrifices” — by being properly “religious” (and using simpleton self-deception in the process: e.g. 7:4 “This is the temple of YHVH…” x3) that the Israelites could then live like the pagans. “Get out of JAIL and Pass GO and get $200” in the process.

    Jeremiah chapter 7 goes into great detail on this matter, not just one verse which you pull out to make it mean something other than what he, the prophet said in it’s original.

    Remember one of, if not the main or only “religious principle” and sacrament you say you permit here and demand that everyone keep here is the doctrine of “letting the author say what he means”, not what (you, in this case as in all your material) people today think he said.

    One point he made just before v.22 was the sacrificial system to the “queen of heaven” the Israelites brought with them from their pagan background as slaves to the Egyptian worldview. He ends the chapter with an inevitable result: human sacrifice—putting their children to death like we do today through abortion.

    Jeremiah immediately follows 7:22 and basically paraphrases the words spoken when YHVH led them out of Egypt. At that time He simply asked the people to hear and obey His voice as in Exodus 19: 4-6. They originally agreed and then failed to do what they promised. In fact, they couldn’t wait to disobey and before Moses comes back down the mountain with the words found in Exodus 20, they have a cow of gold to worship instead and like all the pagan worship conducted by the world that rejects the HOLY BIBLE (then and now), Moses comes down to an orgy in progress.

    The sacrifice system was then installed to deal with the “contagions” which were obviously extant (between their ears) as well as those which would inevitably follow, like those listed in Leviticus 18. So not just the contagion of homosexuality needed to be “purged” (another of your translations) but all the other sins of immorality which went way beyond the realm of “ethics” (your word idea) and actually had the effect of polluting and defiling the land that had vomited them out as a result.

    And because of Israel’s apostasy (Jeremiah 8:1-4) the same vomiting out of the land was about to be their fate as well.

    If you would take the time to just read the entire passage…

  13. laura wrote: I am in a debate with someone who says that everybody is still obligated to keep the Law of Moses with all its statutes and ordinances. I say we are not, he says we are.

    Laura, you may not have been on the list long, but a better question to ask might be, “Which version of ‘the Law of Moses’ should we adhere to?” because the Bible’s authors don’t always agree about what Moses decreed. Here is an example:

    Leviticus 17:1-7:
    Yahweh spoke to Moses: 2 Speak to Aaron and his sons and to all the people of Israel and say to them: This is what Yahweh has commanded. 3If anyone of the house of Israel slaughters an ox or a lamb or a goat in the camp, or slaughters it outside the camp, 4and does not bring it to the entrance of the tent of meeting, to present it as an offering to Yahweh before the tabernacle of Yahweh, he shall be held guilty of bloodshed; he has shed blood, and he shall be cut off from the people. 5This is in order that the people of Israel may bring their sacrifices that they offer in the open field, that they may bring them to Yahweh, to the priest at the entrance of the tent of meeting, and offer them as sacrifices of well-being to Yahweh. 6The priest shall dash the blood against the altar of Yahweh at the entrance of the tent of meeting, and turn the fat into smoke as a pleasing odour to Yahweh, 7so that they may no longer offer their sacrifices for goat-demons, to whom they prostitute themselves. This shall be a statute for ever to them throughout their generations.

    Deuteronomy 12:13-16
    13 Take care that you do not offer your burnt-offerings at any place you happen to see. 14But only at the place that Yahweh will choose in one of your tribes—there you shall offer your burnt-offerings and there you shall do everything I command you. 15 Yet whenever you desire you may slaughter and eat meat within any of your towns, according to the blessing that Yahweh your God has given you; the unclean and the clean may eat of it, as they would of gazelle or deer. 16The blood, however, you must not eat; you shall pour it out on the ground like water.

    If Yahweh, via Moses, said that domesticated animals had to be sacrificed “forever…throughout their generations,” then why would “Moses” say that it was permissible to eat such meat without sacrificing it, when at most one generation passed? This contradiction was discussed in August 2013:

  14. Hi Steven. Thanks for your explanation. I will study this in more detail. But I have a question. How did they have Passover in the wilderness when the Bible says they ate manna for 40 years until they came to the border of Canaan? And if the sacrificial laws were given at Sinai, what was given at Moab? Thank you for any information you may be able to provide. I am in a debate with someone who says that everybody is still obligated to keep the Law of Moses with all its statutes and ordinances. I say we are not, he says we are. In my opinion, it’s blasphemous, sacrilegious and an insult to the Death of Jesus to think that one must keep the Old Covenant Laws.

    1. Laura, Often the issues—especially textual issues, which I deal with here—are much more complex than they appear.

      How did they have Passover? The truth of the matter is that they probably didn’t, and then the “true true” is that there most likely was no wilderness period at all. There’s no archaeological evidence to corroborate any of this, but more to what I specifically do as a biblical scholar is discuss the fact that we’re talking about ancient literature, where modern readers assume—incorrectly—that these are historical records. Our knowledge of ancient literature is just so much more vast than it ever was. We know with a fair amount of certainty that these were not historical narratives. That said, it certainly possible that they were influenced in part by real historical battles, and real treks through the Sinai peninsula as the Israelites often fled to Egypt as exiles: northern Israelite exiles of 722 BC, when the Assyrians came and destroyed the northern kingdom (Hos 9:3; Isa 30:1-5). And Egypt served as a place of refuge for Judahite exiles of 587 BC, after the Babylonians decimated Judah and Jerusalem (2 Kgs 25:26; Jer 42-44).

      So to confine ourselves to specifically the literature, your question is still valid: why did this author portray the Israelites practicing the Passover during the wilderness—especially if other authors argued against this? First, our author is from an elite highly educated priestly guild, and one of the things he was attempting to accomplish in his composition was to present a pure and perfect (idealized) sacrificial cult in the wilderness period, including of many things the observance of the Passover. This was most likely done to build on argument that chastised his contemporaries in the 6th century who were slack on obeying the sacrificial cult. So in this scenario the argument would run: Look even our forefather in the wilderness were able to uphold sacrificial legislation, thus the Israelites in the 6th-5th centuries certainly ought to be able to then.

      But again, authors from different backgrounds, particularly non-priestly backgrounds, might not have agreed with this writer and his guild.

      When this priestly guild sat down to write its composition, which scholars date to the 6th century, in order to legitimate their view of the sacrificial cult and how they perceived it, they wrote a text—much of what is now Leviticus—set in the archaic past in order to lend divine authority as it were to their position and beliefs. I know this knowledge often is shocking to the public, but we have tons of literary examples in and outside of the Bible of texts and authors doing precisely this.

      The law code narratively given on the plains of Moab, a text that scholars date to the 7th century, does not deal with the sacrificial cult, other than Deut 12. It’s more of a secular law code, often even proclaimed a humanitarian law code, and the author and the school who wrote this text understood their relationship with Yahweh on more ethical and secular terms, not the sacrificial terms envisioned by the priests who wrote Leviticus. These are just some of the competing viewpoints that get washed away once modern readers start reading these ancient texts through later theological constructs that impose ideas of divine authorship and a homogeneous narrative. The texts tell us otherwise.

      As far as your last query and scuff with your friend, I don’t delve much into what I call theological issues. But you notice both sides of this argument assume—and it’s not an assumption I share—that these texts/law codes, whether we’re obliged to follow them or not, are directed to us! For me they are ancient texts representing the views and beliefs of ancient peoples. Certainly when we get to the writings of Paul, my task as a biblical scholar is simply to understand why and how Paul argued that the Torah is no longer valid—a view by the way that completely contradicts Matthew’s Jesus!

  15. There were two Covenants. One at Sinai and one at Moab. God gave the first Covenant (the Ten Commandments) at Mt. Sinai, then the people wandered 40 years in the wilderness where they really messed up in keeping the Ten Commandments, worshipping idols and such and then the Book of the Law of Moses was given to them. This explains why they didn’t make sacrifices to
    God but they did to idols (ie Molek) So the Bible explains both ‘contradictions’.
    Deut. 29 [a] These are the words of the covenant that the Lord commanded Moses to make with the people of Israel in the land of Moab, besides the covenant that he had made with them at Horeb.
    It’s all throughout both the Old and the New Covenant of how they disobeyed God’s Law (the first Covenant).

    1. Hi Laura,

      It looks as though you’re relying too heavily on later theological reinterpretations and not what the texts themselves claim. All of the verses listed for this contradiction (Ex 29:38-42; Lev 1-9, 16-17, 23; Num 7, 19:1-10, 28-29) represent passages that introduce sacrificial laws given at Sinai to perform sacrifices or are descriptions of sacrifices being performed during the wilderness period as prescribed by this literature—all from the Priestly source, especially Num 7 which claims that the Passover was celebrated throughout the whole wilderness period! It was writers such as Jeremiah who disagreed with “the false pen” of these Priestly writers to put it in his own words. I am actually now compiling contradictions for Num 27-29 and just read this about the tamid—the required daily burnt-offering of 2 lambs, one in the morning and one in the evening, “the one that was instituted at mount Sinai” (Num 28:6).

      Also, there are 3 law codes in the Torah and they were all written by different guilds and/or priests that had competing views. And you’re wrong about the covenant code of Exodus; it is quite a bit more than just the Ten Commandments. Look at Exodus 21-23—all case laws that were given at Sinai. True, the later author of Deuteronomy has Moses claim that only the Ten Commandments were given at Sinai. In other words he alters the tradition. I will address why he does this when we get to the book of Deuteronomy. And finally, the law code that you’re forgetting is the book of Leviticus, which according to the priestly guild that penned it was all given at Sinai (the Israelites don’t leave Sinai until Numbers 10:28)! It is this law code wherein Yahweh decrees sacrifices, and it was written by an elite guild of priests who came to power in the 6th century BCE, to legitimate their views on the sacrificial cult—as opposed to the views represented in Jeremiah for example.

  16. Hello


    can you share mark zvi’s commentary on these verse

    “What use to Me is the huge number of your sacrifices?” Adonai says; “I am fed up with ‘olah-offerings of rams and the offals of fattened calves; and the blood of oxen, lambs and goats gives Me pleasure. When you come to appear before Me—who asked this of you, to come trampling through My courtyards? Bring no more of your meaningless min’ḥ̣ah-offerings—I find it a disgusting stench…. Rosh Ḥ̣odesh, Shabbat, even the Festival assemblies—I cannot tolerate crookedness mixed with ‘service’. My soul detests your Rosh Ḥ̣odesh and Festival observances, they have become tedious to Me; I can no longer put up with them. When you hold up your hands [a reference to the kohanim delivering the ceremonial “blessing” as prescribed in B’midbar 6:23-26] I will hide My eyes from you; I will not hear you no matter how many ‘prayers’ you say, because your hands are covered with blood! Wash, purify yourselves, remove the badness of your deeds from before My eyes, stop doing wrong! Learn to do right, seek justice, protect victims, treat orphans justly, support the claims of widows.
    “Come, please, let’s discuss this rationally,” says Adonai, “even if your sins are like bright crimson, I will bleach them as white as snow: even if they are as red as tola’ [a bright scarlet dye], I will make them like [the colour of raw] wool!” (Y’shayahu 1:11-18).

    John, why does it say ,” who asked you of this…”?

    I get no pleasure from the blood
    of bulls and lambs and goats.
    12When you come to worship me,
    who asked you to parade through my courts with all your ceremony?


    i thought blood pleased yhwh

  17. can you recommend any good books which go deeper into the hebrew and prove that yhwh did not command blood sacrifices according to jeremiah?

    thank you sir

  18. Here is what Marc Zvi Brettler, in *How to Read the Bible* (which was rereleased as *How to Read the Hebrew Bible*), says on page 150:

    Amos makes his points about the need for repentance and about divine punishment, but not by urging the people to follow the authoritative Torah text. We can be fairly certain that his failure to mention such a text is because in his day, no such Torah existed. This claim may seem surprising. Consider, then, what Amos means when he says: “Did you offer sacrifice and oblation to Me/ Those forty years in the wilderness,/ O House of Israel?” (5:25). In context, this is clearly a rhetorical question whose answer is clearly “no.” When Amos posed this question, he was taking for granted his audience’s belief that the Israelites did *not* offer sacrifices during the wilderness period.

  19. I don’t know Hebrew or Greek or even my native tongue all too well, but it seems to me that Yahweh was never pleased then as he is never pleased now according to all the various priests,scribes and prophets one might listen to.
    I’ve read and pondered a bit on Jeremiah 7:22 before and it seems a glaring contradiction.Yet modern evangelicals love quoting Jeremiah”the weeping prophet”to condemn and accuse all who disagree with them without ever realizing what a false prophet he himself was in many of his utterances.But of course we are to never question God or do his prophets harm.

  20. Hello Steven,

    My error (other than typing late at night before bed!) was that I only did a quick search in my software for עולה (olah), forgetting to use the smichut form (when it is connected to another noun), עלת, or Olat, and, as in this case, which often happens in biblical Hebrew, the letter vav and sometimes a yud is eliminated (or sometimes inserted). The first occurrence is Isaac being called that when he is going to be sacrificed. And by pointing out that Exodus 24:5 is the first occurrence of the term in that book, it caused me to look it up and then see my error, slap myself on the forehead, and chuckle.

    As for the use of Hebrew terms, such as olah, chatas, shelamim, asham, and other sacrifices, I prefer their normal terms rather than English ones assigned to them. (I typed this 2 times already due to ISP issues, so I am keeping this short!)

    As far as the going out of Egypt reference, even your use in the other example that you noted (I looked at it) is speaking of their delight AS they were being taken out, not DURING their period of being in the wilderness. There are grammatical clues here which differentiate between a starting point and a past reference having to do with prefixing and the like. The smichut forms (with and without the prefixing mems) is one indicator. But we need not even go there.

    There was one word in the sentence that would have made it obvious, had the translation of the text not been so poor. That translation was missing ביום (b’yom) as in: “ON THE DAY that I brought them them of Egypt” would have been the clincher, had you seen it. But relying on someone’s poor translation in order to critique the text is going to put you at a disadvantage.

    On a related note, my pointing out of when you call Yom Kippur a “Day of Purification” was to indicate an improper translation, since you wrote “Yom Kippur, literally day of purification”. Since it is not “literally”, so a better sentence would have been “Yom Kippur, which is a day of purification.” (I live in a Hebrew-speaking country, so I get picky about what is “literal”.)

    This brings up the handicap that you are unfortunately working with.

    You are relying on the integrity and translation of others in order to create an argument critiquing text that you have not read, including the errors of others as part of your thesis, which is not going to aid you in creating anything of scholarly value.

    That is going to put you at a disadvantage, especially when, as was the case here, the translation omits text that would have provided a completely different understanding. I have poked around at random at some of your other posts, and the translations are not just sub-par, but often makes the text unrecognizable to those of us who know them. We are not even talking about LXX Greek vs. Hebrew here, in the case of the NaCh (Prophets and writings).

    I agree with you that there ARE contradictions. Furthermore, I hold that the entire Tanach (Bible) is a work of literature, with many problems when it comes to using it to live one’s life by. There is a lot of superstition and mythology in it, and, like all literature, it has a place in history. But in order to write a critique that is truly your own, that is based on in-depth study of meanings and associations, you might need to discard certain foundations in order to come up with something that is unique, which might mean learning a language.

    Good luck!

    1. I would have to respectfully disagree.

      Scholars may, and do indeed, debate what is the best English term to capture the various senses that the Hebrew kipper signifies—which actually covers a variety of senses in English: “atone,” “expiate,” “purge,” “purify,” etc. All of these meanings are encapsulated in the Hebrew. “Purge,” however, makes for the best possible attempt at re-presenting the Priestly writers’ ideology and theology. In Leviticus 16, the Aaronid priest performs a variety of kipper-acts—to both individuals and objects! In 16:20, the Holy (haqqodesh), the Tabernacle, and the altar all receive this kipper-act. In this context I’m not sure how one can translate the verb with “atone,” which seems to suggest a conscious act of contrition, or of atoning for a sin or transgression. How can we assign sin or transgression to these objects? Rather the issue is one of purging or purifying.

      Moreover, if one had to boil down the whole Priestly ideology to one main issue/concern, it would unarguably be that of purity, holiness, and cleanliness, as opposed to impurity, the profane, and uncleanliness. This ritual language encompasses all of the book of Leviticus’ legislation. It also encompasses what we would consider the ethical sphere. Ritual purity and the lack thereof, and ethical purity and the lack thereof, were not two different things. Ethics, in other words, or the state of being in sin or not, was viewed in the larger context of ritual purity and cleanliness, or the lack thereof.

      Take the Priestly prohibition against homosexuality for example (Lev 18:22). It is not presented, strictly speaking, as an ethical offense (and this can be said of most all of the prohibitions in Leviticus). Rather it is a ritual offense: it breaches the border between the pure and the impure, sacred and profane, and as such risks bringing that contagion upon the Tabernacle, Yahweh’s domain. This is the Priestly writer’s argument. If we want to see this in purely ethical terms, then it is a “sin” that is contagious! But to separate ethics from the ritual sphere would be inaccurate. Indeed, all (or most all) the Priestly laws are presented in the broader context of concerns of purity and impurity. This is true with the prohibition against not keeping the Sabbath as well. It is an offense that breaches the original holiness set at creation. It risks profaning the sacred space and time that, according to the Priestly writer, were established at creation. This naturally holds true with respect to the Day of Purgation—it is the day that all impurities are expunged from both people and Tabernacle, and implicitly the land as well. Yes there is an ethical component with respect to the people, but this has to be viewed within the larger Priestly concern and language of purity, holiness, and cleanliness. The Day of Purgation is a ritual that restores, from the Priestly perspective, the original order, purity, and holiness inherit in creation itself. This is why the English Purgation/Purification (I recant my Purification; I like Purgation better) better captures the meaning of kipper here. So I would argue that yes this is a literal translation. It best captures the Hebrew thought of our writer.

      The Hebrew of the Jeremiah citation, i.e., its use of beyom, is understood. But the point is regardless how you translate it, Jeremiah’s meaning, what Jeremiah evokes, is the wilderness period: from the day Yahweh took them from Egypt. Again, this is how this phrase is used in the Deuteronomic corpus as well. But it is even apparent in the context of the Jeremiah citation. Jeremiah attempts to rewrite the wilderness narrative by presenting the wilderness generation as faithful to Yahweh’s laws—he did not command sacrifices AND they did not perform them in the wilderness (a blatant contradiction with the Priestly literature)—contrary to his contemporaries whom he is castigating. In fact, it might be argued that Jeremiah is only familiar with the Decalogue tradition, which indeed does not command sacrifices, at least not E’s version. It is a direct stab against the Priestly legislation. Regardless how one translates the Hebrew, it is still there.

      My aim here is not to re-present the Hebrew literally or to the best of my abilities, but rather the individual sources and their author’s agendas, ideologies, beliefs, etc. Certainly this is attained through the Hebrew. But nit-picking about the nuances of the translation more than often has no bearing on the contradictory aims, theologies, beliefs, and ideologies of these texts and their authors, unless I’m noting a linguistic contradiction. Look at the traditional 3 examples given by scholars to demonstrate the Documentary Hypothesis—the Flood narratives (#14-18), the Joseph story (#72-73), and the crossing of the Red Sea (#120-122). Certainly the Hebrew may be translated differently and by someone who notices Hebrew nuances better than myself, but the textual contradictions remain constant. It is the thought of these authors that we’re trying to access here.

  21. Just a couple of things. First, it’s Yom Kippur (pronounced yahm kee-poor), not Yum (nothing yummy on a fast day!). And Kippur comes from the root L’kahpair (לכפר), from “to cover up” as in “atone” or “forgive”, not “purify, which would be ti’hair – a different root.

    As far as those two verses, it appears that Jer 7.22 is saying (translations are mine): “For I did not speak to your forefathers [in Egypt] nor did I command them on the day that I brought them out from the land of Egypt concerning an elevation [offering] and general sacrifice (tzevach).” – Technically, while Ex: 12:1 onward, was in Egypt, and does speak of the sacrifices for the New Month (rosh chodesh), the Olah offering is not really mentioned until Num. 28:27, when they were out of Egypt, and after that, such offerings were made. (an Olah is one of several different sacrifices, with special purpose and requirements).

    The Amos quote is chastising them for making sacrifices to other than the God of Israel. “You approached me with the (general) sacrifices (zevachim) and the mincha offering (mid-day meal offering) in the desert for 40 years.”

    So I am not certain where they are contradicting, since they appear to me to be saying 2 different things.

    I like the your interpretation of what was going on.

    1. EG, I’m a bit perplexed by your comments: the ‘olah is the burnt-offering. See particularly Lev 1:3-6, 6:1-6, 9:12-14, 16:5, 22:17-19, Num 15:3, etc. Since I am a novice with biblical Hebrew, I often consult the Anchor Bible Series. In Jacob Milgrom’s 3 vol work on Leviticus he provides this etymology to ‘olah: “that which ascends” —explaining, perhaps, why the offering is entirely turned to smoke on the altar. Maybe you confused this with the elevation offering (tenupa)?

      This is the case in all the passages cited above: the entire animal is burnt on the altar. This is also clear from the context of Jer 7:22. Since the burnt-offering was the burning on the altar of the whole animal to Yahweh, here Jeremiah has Yahweh basically claim: “Add these burnt-offerings (‘olot) also to your peace (or well-being)-offerings (zebahim) and eat the meat. I don’t want them, nor ever commanded them!”

      In the Amos quote, I should have cited 5:22 also: “If you offer me burnt-offerings (‘olot) or your cereal-offerings, I will not accept them. I will pay no heed to your stall-feed well-being offerings… Did you offer (well-being) sacrifices (zebahim) or cereal-offerings to me those forty years in the wilderness? (Milgrom’s translation)

      Furthermore, the locution in Jeremiah, “from the land of Egypt” is found in numerous other places in the Bible and is usually synonymous with the ensuing wilderness period. I don’t have the time to cite examples, but a parallel case can be found in #124. Also, according to the Priestly chronology, we are only 3 months outside of the Exodus event (Ex 19:1).

      Furthermore, not only do these two prophetic traditions contradict the ‘olah sacrifices performed in the Priestly literature throughout the wilderness period (Ex 29:38-42; Lev 1-9, 16-17, 23; Num 7, 19:1-10, 28-29), but they also contradict the Elohist’s emphasis throughout the Plague narrative that the Israelites wish to leave Egypt in order to sacrifice to Yahweh (Ex 3:18; 5:3, 8, 17; 10:25; and also 18:12; 24:5; 32:6-8, etc.). In fact, the first ‘olah sacrifice is found in Exodus 24:5, then 32:5 (to the golden calf, but it is a “festival to Yahweh”—see forthcoming contradiction), then Ex 40:29, then the priestly law of the burnt-offering in Lev 1, Lev 6, etc. This contradiction is duly noted in the scholarly literature across the board.

      With respect to kipper (thanks for noting my typo), Milgrom makes the argument that in biblical poetry it’s synonymous to maha, ‘wipe’ (Jer 18:32) or hesir, ‘remove’ (Isa 27:9)—thus suggesting “to purge.” The English lexicon usually used to translate kipper—atone, expiate, purge, etc.—all hint at what is occurring in the rite itself in Lev 16: the people are atoned, expiated, purged of their sin/uncleanliness AND the Tabernacle complex is purged and purified from its impurities. I’ve adopted Milgrom’s “Day of Purification” but indeed it could just as easily be “Day of Atonement” as it is usually rendered, or even Day of Purgation—hmm I sort of prefer this one.

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