#151. Does Yahweh dwell among the people, in the Temple OR not? (Ex 25:8, 29:45 vs Deut 12:11, 12:21; Acts 7:48)

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

“And they shall make me a holy place and I shall dwell among them.” (Ex 25:8; cf. Ex 29:45)

One or the central and most important theological tenets of the Priestly theocracy was that Yahweh dwelt among the people, tented in the Tabernacle which was at the center of their camp.

This theological conviction alone necessitated a strict ethical and ritual code that quickly expunged and expiated any impurities that came into the camp—thus the Priestly legislation’s strict adherence to purity and cleanliness, both ethically and ritually.

“You will be holy, for I, Yahweh your god, am holy!” (Lev 19.2)

At the center of this “holy” encampment was the Tabernacle where Yahweh dwelt. Only the Aaronid priests were allowed entrance into it. Next, were the anointed Aaronids themselves, and after them were the Levites who ministered to the Aaronid priesthood (Num 4). Extending further from the center were the people, and finally the land. Any impurity or sin that befell an individual or even the land (such as a dead animal on the land) needed to be expiated immediately since this impurity/sin risked to encroach upon Yahweh’s holiness which resided among the people.

This allows us to understand why the Priestly legislation in the book of Leviticus was emphatically concerned with laws that 1) prohibited coming into contact with impure/unclean things or committing impure/unclean acts, and 2) in case of a breach between the pure and impure, the clean and unclean, ritually legislated what was required to mend this breach and bring the individual back to a state of purity, cleanliness lest this impurity encroach upon Yahweh’s dwelling (eg., Lev 16:16). We will specifically look at some of this legislation when we get to the book of Leviticus.

This whole priestly and cultic ideology is completely absent in the Deuteronomic literature. The main reason being that the Deuteronomic scribes—who were non-Aaronid Levites (see #152)—have vastly different ideas about what religion is. The cult played a minor role, if any, in the Deuteronomic literature. But beyond this, the Deuteronomists would have vehemently disagreed with the Priestly writer’s ideology that Yahweh dwelt among the people.

For the Deuteronomist, Yahweh dwelt in heaven. To preserve the holiness of the Temple dwelling, the Deuteronomist claimed that merely Yahweh’s name resided there, not his glory nor presence as the Priestly writer: “the place that Yahweh, your god, will choose to tent his name.”

Likewise, in the absence of the Temple, that is after the temple was destroyed in 587 BC by the Babylonians and the second Temple in 70 AD by the Romans, any remnant of this Priestly ideology was expunged. Thus the author of Acts claims that God does not dwell in a temple. He quotes Isaiah 66:1-2, a text that was also written when the Temple had no longer been standing.

It is instructive to imagine the Priestly writer’s worldview: Yahweh dwells among the people. Furthermore, his presence sat in the inner shrine, the Holy of Holies above the golden cherubim (Ex 25:22). Thus for the Priestly writer the whole space was a sacred space, and as such demanded strict holiness. Imagine what sort of holy, pure, clean, sinless, requirements would be necessitated if God, a god, were to dwell among us! This is what the Priestly writer has done.

11 thoughts on “#151. Does Yahweh dwell among the people, in the Temple OR not? (Ex 25:8, 29:45 vs Deut 12:11, 12:21; Acts 7:48)

  1. So yes, I concede, the use of graphe, whether by Paul or the author of Timothy, would have referenced OT texts. Indeed, Rom 4:3 is a case in point for 2 Timothy 3:15-16—i.e., using “scripture” to correct “false” teachings—again what was deemed “false” teachings were also variously conceived; see John’s condemnation of nearly all Christendom as teaching false doctrine in Revelation! But I think there might be instances where graphe was used for other writings, perhaps even those that were in the process of becoming canonized for the early church, such as Paul’s writings which would have certainly been circulating around the churches. But perhaps not?

    Since you make this statement, I don’t think that we have anything to debate. Regarding the last part of your quote, which I bolded, I think that 2 Peter 3:16 gives credence to this, since it speaks of Paul’s writings as scripture (graphe).

    2 Peter 3:1516
    15and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation. So also our beloved brother Paul wrote to you according to the wisdom given to him, 16speaking of this as he does in all his letters. There are some things in them hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other scriptures.

  2. Steven DiMattei:
    Furthermore, at the time this letter was written, the Bible as we know it, and this specific label, were not yet created! In fact, graphe, literally “writings,” most likely refers, in this letter’s context, to Paul’s letters and specifically Paul’s ethical teachings!

    2 Timothy purports to be written by Paul (1:1), so even though many scholars think that a later follower of Paul’s wrote it, it seems odd that “Paul” would refer to “his” prior writings as “scripture.” Since the author uses this term (graphe) just one other time, at 1 Timothy 5:18, and that passage quotes Deuteronomy 5:18 as an example of “scripture,” isn’t it more likely that “Paul” considered scripture to at least include the OT? Granted, we don’t know what other book(s) “Paul” considered authoritative, since just eight verses prior to the oft-quoted 2 Timothy 3:16, he refers to Pharaoh’s magicians as “Jannes and Jambres,” names nowhere found in Exodus 7 or anywhere else in the OT.

    1. Hi John,

      Indeed, here is an appropriate place to have a debate—i.e., what is being referred to when this author uses the Greek graphe. Not having my books with me, I sort of reproduced an idea I had about 2 Timothy 3:16 when I was a graduate student, and I haven’t really done any research to follow up on it.

      The main point I wished to express, which I’m sure you agree with, is that when this letter was penned the Bible as we have it did not exist. And although there was already a canon in formation that was certainly deemed as unalterable divine “scripture”—an idea that was not around early or when many of the OT texts were written—by both 1st century Jews and “Christians,” that canon was nevertheless not set and it varied as well. For example it’s not until the 2nd century that the early Church accepted the book of Revelation, and in many circles the Gospel of John also, as scripture. In the epistle of Jude, the apocryphal book of Enoch is quoted as if it was considered scripture by the early church, and in the codex Sinaiticus, if my memory serves me, the epistle of Barnabas and the apocalypse of Hermes were deemed scripture by the early church. At any event, it’s inaccurate for modern-day Christians to use this passage as support for divine authorship of the Bible. At best, it re-presents the beliefs of this text’s author—such as the appeal to divine authorship in the Qu’ran or any other ancient text, and there are many.

      Concerning Paul’s usage, he uses quite frequently the expression “as it is written (gegraptai)” when quoting from the OT; but in one place he actually uses graphe: “What does scripture (graphe) say?” (Rom 4:3). In general, however, when referring to the OT he uses the locution, “the law and the prophets.” So yes, I concede, the use of graphe, whether by Paul or the author of Timothy, would have referenced OT texts. Indeed, Rom 4:3 is a case in point for 2 Timothy 3:15-16—i.e., using “scripture” to correct “false” teachings—again what was deemed “false” teachings were also variously conceived; see John’s condemnation of nearly all Christendom as teaching false doctrine in Revelation! But I think there might be instances where graphe was used for other writings, perhaps even those that were in the process of becoming canonized for the early church, such as Paul’s writings which would have certainly been circulating around the churches. But perhaps not? I can’t really recall why I saw this as a reference to Paul’s letters, as if an attempt was being made by this author to authenticate as scripture Paul’s ethical teachings in the face of circulating “false” doctrines.

  3. Now I am sure that we are not arguing about the same thing. So I decide to quit this “debate”. It’s more like a conversation in which you talk about your opinions and I talk about mine. But I enjoyed our discussion, good luck!

    1. No Andong, I do not talk about, have not talked about, will not talk about, my opinions or beliefs. That’s not what I do. I don’t need a PhD in any topic to discuss opinions and beliefs. Rather, I talk about the texts, their authors, their beliefs, cultures, worldviews, etc. I study these things objectively. I form hypothesis from the biblical texts themselves, from observing its textual data—not from what readers claim about them, believe about them, or think about them. Indeed, you however do talk about your opinions and beliefs about the texts, while neglecting the very texts themselves. I have nothing against belief per se, but Christians have to start being honest to these ancient texts and their authors. And time and time again, they have proven that they cannot, will not, or do not want to do this. Their beliefs are more important than what these 66 different texts say and don’t say. Or put differently, as I’ve often expressed here, what the centuries-later exterior label “the Bible” has come to mean, invoke, and symbolize to modern Christian readers is at variance with the very messages, competing messages at that, of these 66 different and once independent texts. But, hey, who cares about what these texts say and why? Certainly Christians do not. They care solely about what the label “the Bible” implies about such texts, impose upon such texts, or the beliefs about such texts forged by readers living centuries after these texts were written and ignorant of these texts’ compositional history and authors—things we now know about today. Some transparency and honesty would be a refreshing and much welcomed about-face for many modern Christians. In the end, the debate you are unwilling to engage in is between your subjective beliefs about the texts and the very texts themselves!

  4. Steven,

    Thanks for your comments. I quickly realized that we are not arguing about the same thing. So instead of arguing against you, I am more like to reorganize myself with a few points.

    – First of all, I believe Bible is God-breathed (2 Timothy 3:16). So I don’t think Bible is only for readers at the same time of the authors, but for ALL human beings at ALL generations, even though it appeared at certain time span of human history, certain area, and written in certain languages. How is that possible? It is easier to say No than Yes. I can’t give you a definite answer, but I call it faith (based on evidence, of course).

    – It is true that some texts may have lost their original meaning and we may never know their exact original meaning, but to our best knowledge it is reasonable to believe that they support the main message, which is: God created this world, we all sinned, He sent His only son Jesus Christ and saved us, and this world will end when Jesus came again.

    – Texts have little (if not zero) meaning out of context. When I write “I feel full of energy” I mean I am energetic and confident to do anything I want. Here I don’t have a solid concept of “energy”, although I myself published several papers with this word (but even in scientific reign “energy” has very loose meaning and thus ambiguous out of context), and I can’t measure how “full” it is. In another thousand of years when people read my words they probably have much advanced technology to actually measure how “full” one’s “body energy” is. So they may reach the conclusion that I am indeed full according to their definition. Are they absolutely right? No. Are they wrong? Not completely, because they have grasped the main message I want to express.

    – I think you made fairly clear that what you meant by “contradictions” has very specific meaning. For the sake of not causing further confusions among readers of this website, I would give you a suggestion to change its name to something like “Literal Contradictions in the Bible”.

    – Finally a Bible verses: God is spirit, and his worshipers mus worship in spirit and the truth. (John 4:24) What do you think this verse is trying to tell us if texts can completely describe Him?

    1. No Andong, we’re not arguing about different things. You’re trying to define the texts by arguing from subjective beliefs; your whole premise about what the Bible is starts from your subjective belief—“I believe….”—or the subjective beliefs of later readers (see below). I on the other hand attempt to define the texts from the textual data; the biblical texts themselves are my object of study, not a subjective belief, nor what someone says about them, including a later writer. In this case the textual data, the objective study of the biblical texts themselves, refute your subjective beliefs.

      In other words, I defend the texts and their authors each on their own terms long before later theological interpretive grids were imposed upon them, such as your “I believe,” while you defend the text’s readers and subjective-oriented assumptions about the text. You can believe, as it was long ago, that the earth is the center of the universe, but the cosmic data and current discoveries and knowledge refute that belief. As a scholar, I’m not interested in beliefs, other than understanding, and upholding when I have to, the beliefs of the various and differing authors of these texts. Your not interested in their beliefs, or in only those you see as supporting your own beliefs. Your own beliefs, in other words, are more important than those of these ancient texts and the texts themselves, which, frankly, is understandable, but it is also abusive and negligent of these texts.

      And that brings me to 2 Timothy 3:16. You falsely think that you are defending the Bible by quoting this passage, when in fact all you are doing is blindly representing—I’d even say mis-representing—the subjective belief of its author. That’s it! Again, as a scholar, and as conscientious human beings of the 21st century, we should certainly be interested in why this author believed this and moreover what does it mean and what is he referring to. But to blindly use this as a rhetorical slogan because the text has become authoritative for our culture, for better or worse, and then to apply it ignorantly like a blanket on 65 other ancient texts all of which were written centuries, even millennium earlier, and about which you possess no proper knowledge, is being neglect of and abusive towards these very texts and their independent authors. I’m sorry I have to be so stern and forthcoming about these matters, but they seriously need to be addressed.

      Moreover, graphe theopneustos does not mean what you manipulate it to mean, and even if it did it is no more than the subjective belief of its author, much like every human who does not observe the Sabbath—our Saturday, and that includes not collecting wood, lighting the stove, making coffee, shopping, watching football, any so-called “profane” act—should be put to death according to the belief of the author of Leviticus. Or rather, this author is so adamant about his belief that he feels it is God almighty’s belief as well and has his god pronounce it as an “eternal law” to be followed forever, period! If this author’s beliefs, legitimated by placing them on God’s lips, is not the same as a writer writing 600 years later, Paul, or our own, then so be it. We must be honest to the text. But to interpret this author’s beliefs away is merely being disingenuous toward these texts; I’d say it’s shitting on these texts. And it also displays what is of more importance to you and readers of your persuasions—your own beliefs and legitimating those beliefs even at the expense of these texts! That’s down right abusive and disingenuous. Indeed, you yourself claim to know nothing about these texts—“if their original meanings are lost”—no, they’re not lost; they’re very clear when one studies the texts on their own terms, not what’s been said about them, believed about them by later readers with their own theological axes to grid and ideologies to impose.

      Back to Timothy. But these, the views of the author of Leviticus, are all subjective beliefs that are being legitimated by making appeals to divine authority, much like the author of Timothy is doing, or rather how you’re using Timothy. Furthermore, at the time this letter was written, the Bible as we know it, and this specific label, were not yet created! In fact, graphe, literally “writings,” most likely refers, in this letter’s context, to Paul’s letters and specifically Paul’s ethical teachings! So the author of Timothy is voicing his belief that Paul’s ethical teachings are divine-like, or divinely inspirited, much like the ancients accredited Plato’s ethical teachings as divine-like, or divinely inspired. Context is key. And understanding the Bible’s text requires knowing the historical and literary context of roughly a whole millennium of history and literature and 2 gigantic cultures, the ancient Near East and the Greco-Roman world. There’s more than a life-time of learning here. That’s why we, scholars, go to school for PhDs and devote our whole lives to this.

      It seems then that your whole motivation is to support your beliefs about the biblical text, or the beliefs about the biblical text that some later writers had, while nevertheless being ignorant of these texts on their own terms, before these later writers imposed subjective qualifiers upon them. I, on the other hand, am interested in knowing the individual biblical texts on their own terms. That is having the texts themselves reveal to me what their authors thought, believed, and then understanding why. Point of fact: the Bible itself, or rather its independent and varying texts refute the subjective opinions and beliefs of its later readers in claiming that it’s divinely inspired, indeed in claiming that it’s a Book, Bible! This is the fact, just as the study of the cosmos refutes the belief that the earth is the center of the cosmos. The conversation we as a culture ought to be having is: Ok, where do we go from here? How and why did later readers impose concepts of divine authorship onto these texts, and what does that mean for us when the texts themselves display their very human, often petty, agendas, ideologies, politically inspired motivations, etc.? How does this clash with authors who explicitly show us, inform us, that they are changing the traditions they themselves inherited and then authenticating those changes by placing words on Yahweh’s lips, and later the lips of Jesus? Granted these are difficult questions to face. But I fear we as a human species are still much to weak and immature to confront these questions, to set aside our subjective motivations and beliefs and to stare reality in the face. We need, so it seems, our comfort stories. We need to shape reality into a happy-ending story. We are after all a feeble creature.

      You say, “Texts have little (if not zero) meaning out of context.” Indeed. Then why do you continually interpret them, extrapolate alleged meanings, with no regard to context, historical or literary? For example, as discussed in my previous comment and on each and every post on this site, the scroll that eventually became Leviticus was written roughly circa the 6th and 5th century BCE and by an elite priestly guild who traced their lineage back to Aaron, thus the Aaronids. They were a rival to the earlier Levite-written book of Deuteronomy. How do we know all this? The text tells us this! Just as objectively studying a Spiderman movie will tell you about its historical and cinemagraphic contexts, cultural issues, viewpoints of its producer, etc. To understand Leviticus, to extrapolate its rightful meaning, is to know about its time period, to know about why the Aaronids believed what they did, and wrote what they did. To know what historical circumstance they were writing in response of, and to whom. What were the literary conventions used in their writing, and what earlier textual traditions did they work from, and work against. What did ancient priests believe back then, and why, and so on, and so on. You claim that these are not known, but you are gravely mistaken. Just because you are ignorant of a subject—the Bible—doesn’t mean that we don’t know about it, and it doesn’t mean that you can just claim whatever you subjectively want to about its nature when you haven’t objectively studied the texts themselves, or read the now over 300 years of scholarship about it. The stance you’re taking, I’m sorry to inform you, is abusive and negligent of the biblical texts, their authors, etc. All of your comments are centered around your imposing onto these texts yours or a latter reading community’s subjective reader-oriented beliefs about the text. And you use the erroneous appeal to ignorance—that we don’t know when indeed we do on many grounds; there are countless good books out there—to just blatantly claim whatever you want to claim about the texts. You’ve chosen to remain ignorant so that you can spout anything you want about these texts. This is shameful and disingenuous towards these texts.

      Lastly, you yourself make the point. John’s views on God, not Yahweh!—a non-Jewish writer living in the 2nd c. CE and writing for a specific purpose and to a specific audience—is vastly different, and yes blatantly contradictory to, the Aaronid priests of Leviticus who, through the mouthpiece of their god himself, stated that worship only comes through sacrifice, period. And the authors of many of the passages of Genesis and Exodus claim that Abraham, Moses, and others physically saw Yahweh, and eat with him! See, you can’t just interpret away the beliefs of these 3,000 year old texts by imposing later theological constructs on them, even if that’s what early Christians did. Again, it is clear what is most important to you: your subjective beliefs. The texts are merely manipulated to support this. I on the other hand engage in the objective study of each one of the Bible’s 66 different texts and each on their own terms. And sorry most of them refute the position and beliefs you, and many Christians, maintain. And that’s a fact. And that’s also the real starting point of our cultural conversation that must be had. But one needs to first be honest to these divergent texts and their authors, each with their differing opinions, beliefs, wordviews, etc. Apparently you’re unable or unwilling to do this because what is most influential upon you is what you’ve been taught to believe about these texts, rather than listening to and educating yourself on these individual texts long before they were co-opted and appropriated for later theological constructs such as “a holy Book” and divine authorship. Sorry, but these once separate individual texts do not support these centuries-later theological constructs and ideas.

  5. Steven, your knowledge of the Bible is impressive. But I think this one is not hard to explain. When God says in OT that he dwells among the Israelites, he means the Israelites should perform certain rituals IN ORDER TO keep God and therefore his words in mind (Dt6:5). However, they failed and instead did terrible things (Ex32:9-10). Rituals were designed for us to practice obeying God and remembering him, more specifically, to keep ourselves away from sins. But our free will ruins this, from the very beginning (i.e., Adam and Eve). So God has prepared us a solution through Jesus to clean our sins. That’s why in NT the role of various rituals or laws is lowered by great extent, simply because they can’t help us to solve the fudamental issue – sin (Col2:20-23). Acts7:48 reminds us this: simply by observing the laws and rituals do not work.

    Even literal oes not lead to contradiction. Consider the case our best friend past away, and we say (and some times feel) that he still “lives” with us. It is not his flesh but his past actions, words, and so on that remain vivid to us. Similarly, God was, is, and will be forever living in a complex space almost impossible for us to comprehend, but his words and creations are wilth us all the time (Romans1:19-20)

    The Holy Spirit, which shares exactly the same identity with God is always with those who are willing to accept Jesus as his savior. While the Holy Spirit is dwelling in us from some point on, Jesus used to live with the disciples but no longer, the Father has always been dwelling in his heavenly home. So, it doesn’ contradict to have God live with/without us at the same time; furthermore, He can be NEITHER of these two states without contradictions.

    This is one important feature of “Trinity”, put in theological terms. I haven’t read all of the contradictions you claimed, but I believe that this idea can dissolve many of them.

    1. Andong,

      I appreciate your comment, but what you’ve done here is a perfect example of what I have been warning and advocating against: you bring later theological concepts and interpretive frameworks into your interpretive process and actually take these centuries-later created interpretive constructs—not the texts themselves—as your starting point in the interpretive process, as your “given,” and then from that centuries-later vantage point you attempt to manipulate these ancient texts to support, legitimate, and justify these centuries later, often millennium-later, imposed theological frameworks and belief systems. In so doing you are actually guilty of neglecting the ancient texts themselves, of neglecting an understanding of what they actually say and do not say and why they say what they say and to whom, of neglecting, and indeed rejecting, the very beliefs, values, and worldviews of the authors of these 3,000 year old texts.

      The texts themselves, studied as products of their own historical worlds—not ours, not those of readers living centuries later—speak against the line of interpretation you present here. They speak against the centuries-later interpretive theological sophistry you so blatantly impose on these very texts, and in short even display your ignorance about these ancient texts. In your hands, the texts become merely an authoritative vehicle to support your own beliefs and values, or those of readers living centuries, millennium later, who, like yourself, were ignorant of the historical and literary contexts within which these texts were produced, and why they were written. I understand the “necessity” to interpret your modern worldview in theological terms. That’s not what I’m arguing against. It’s your erroneous and abusive stance toward the ancient texts themselves that bothers me. For these 3,000 year old documents do not support these later imposed theological constructs, interpretive frameworks, and modern belief systems.

      Here, this site is devoted to the texts themselves and their authors—not to what you believe or think about them, not to what I believe or think about them, not to what millions of endless readers over the last millennium have believed or thought about them. Here, we start from the ancient texts themselves, understanding—not particularly advocating—the authors’ views, belief systems, values, agendas, ideologies, theologies, etc. in his—not ours nor those of centuries-later reading communities—historical context.

      So, pertaining to the text of Leviticus and the Aaronid priests who wrote it, they believed—vehemently against your stance, your later theological interpretive framework, and your very modern beliefs—that:

      – Yahweh, the god of the Hebrews, dwelt among them in their midst (specifically stated in Ex 25:8 and 29:45, but implied throughout all of Leviticus). This was furthermore a worldview shared by other ancient Near Eastern peoples, especially ancient Near Eastern priests, who saw themselves as mediating between the people and their god via the sacrificial cult, as also specifically outlined throughout Leviticus (Lev 1-9, 16, 23, etc.).
      – This belief, this worldview which was held by these ancient priests—namely that Yahweh, the Holy, dwelt among them—inexorably necessitated that both the people and the land remain in a state of ritual and ethical purity, holiness, sacredness etc. (Lev 4-5; 11-15, 16, 18-20, 23, 26), since any uncleanliness, profaneness, or impurity to either person or the land risked contaminating the sacred space and person of the deity.
      – Uncleanliness, impurity, the profane, were viewed as contagious to these ancient priests; any one or anything coming into contact with an impure person or thing became impure themselves (Lev 5:1-6; 7:19-21; 11:24-38; 12, 13, etc.).
      – Thus also, the whole necessity of the sacrificial cult system for these authors; only through sacrifice can ritual purity and holiness be maintained and restored (Lev 4-5, 16, 23, etc.; Num 15:27-29).
      – Furthermore, according to this priestly guild, “sins” or more properly understood according to this author, acts that contaminated an individual with an impurity, uncleanliness, or accidentally breached the boarders between the sacred and the profane, could ONLY be expiated, atoned, by sacrifice (Lev 4-5, 12, 16, 23; Num 15:27-29). And furthermore, all intentional and knowingly committed “sins” were NOT eligible for expiation, atonement. These individuals were banned from Yahweh’s presence and his community (Num 15:30-31).
      – Furthermore, this priestly worldview necessitated a unique set of prohibitions—acts which this Aaronid priestly guild saw as profaning the sacred space within which they dwelt. Thus, according to the Priestly writer’s god, Yahweh, certain foods are unclean or impure (Lev 11); a woman’s menstruation is impure (Lev 12); any bodily discharge or emission is impure (Lev 13); leprosy and other skin infections are impure (Lev 14); in fact diseases by their very nature are impure; any clothes or a house that comes into contact with the infectious is also unclean and impure. For example, everything that touches pork, a corpse, the blood of a menstruating woman—whether a bottle, a piece of clothing, the walls of your house, etc.—also becomes contaminated and impure and must be purified through washing and sacrifice, or simply discarded. Likewise, any individual coming into physical contact with a corpse or the blood of a menstruating woman also becomes impure. Exposing the nudity of one’s relative is impure; homosexuality is unclean and impure; coming into contact with a dead person or animal is impure, etc. In other words, in the strict sacred space that defined the world of ancient priestly clans, such as our Aaronids here, any one of these acts risked bringing the profane, the unclean, the impure, and the unholy into the realm of the holy, the pure, and the sacred, as conceived of by these priests. Moreover, any individual who has contracted an impurity (i.e., committed a sin) and does not expiate his impurity/sin through a ritualized washing and sacrifice officiated over by the Aaronid priest was irrevocably cut off and banished from the community.
      – An annual system of festivals and sacrifices deemed “eternal laws” (Lev 23; Num 15) were also established to maintain ritual purity and safeguard the land and its people in a state of ritual purity, specifically because God lived among them! Furthermore, all of these calendar festival dates were set on a lunar calendar by God himself according to these Aaronid priests, and any peoples, especially those calling themselves Yahweh’s people, who did not eternally keep these festivals were cut off. In some cases the penalty was death, as for not eternally observing the Sabbath, which according to these same authors, God made holy and sacred at the creation of the world (Gen 2:3). Thus, both sacred space and sacred time were very much a part of this author’s worldview—a worldview which we no longer share. You just can’t “interpret” away these people’s beliefs, texts, etc. Rather, times change, beliefs change, worldviews change.
      – This Aaronid priestly guild also had “Yahweh” pronounce these unique “eternal covenants”: circumcision (Gen 17:1-14), Sabbath observance (Ex 31:12-17), and the Aaronid priesthood itself (Ex 40:15; Num 25:10-13)!

      Obviously the Aaronid priests who wrote this text used Yahweh as a mouthpiece to legitimate and sanctify their own “temporal” beliefs, worldviews, and values. But that in itself is another discussion.

      I am not going to repeat what has already been clearly articulated in other posts, albeit I already have (see: #174, #183, #184, #186, etc. or see the contradictions in Leviticus in general). My final point is simply to encourage you to understand the texts on the terms of their authors, not yours, not per your beliefs, nor those of later reading communities. I advocate being honest to the texts! That is the first step; the next would be being honest to ourselves—an even more difficult task!

  6. Which belief did Jesus hold?

    Matthew 23:21-22:
    21and whoever swears by the sanctuary, swears by it and by the one who dwells in it; 22and whoever swears by heaven, swears by the throne of God and by the one who is seated upon it.

    Verse 22 refers to Isaiah 66:1 and agrees with the Deuteronomist, but verse 22 seems to accord with Priestly theology.

Leave a Reply