Saturday, November 12, 2005

Stop 0 - God’s revelation to Moses

E account - Moses is tending Yethrau, his father-in-law’s sheep and he arrives at the mountain of God, Choreb.
God calls to him from the bush and says "Moses, Moses... I am the god of your father, the god of Abraham, the god of Isaac and the god of Jacob. Moses hides his face because he is afraid to stare at God.
God says "the cry of the children of Israel has come to me and I am now sending you to Paraoh to extract the children of Israel from Egypt".
Moses says "Who am I that I shall go to Paraoh and extract the children of Israel from Egypt?" God says "for I will be with you and this will be your sign that I have sent you: After you extract the people from Egypt, you shall worship God on this mountain".
Moses says "behold, I will come to the children of Israel and I will say to them ‘the god of your forefathers has sent me to you’ and they will ask me ‘what is his name?’, what shall I say to them?
God says to Moses "ahyehAsherAhyeh (=I will be what I shall be) is my name; thus shall you say to the children of Israel ‘I shall be’ has sent me to you. Thus shall you say to the children of Israel ‘Yahweh the god of your fathers, the god of abraham, the god of isaac and the god of Jacob has sent me to you’. This is my name forever and this is my remembrance for generations".

J account - Moses sees the angel of God in a firy flame from within the bush and turns towards the bush to see why the fire does not consume the bush.
God says "Do not come any closer; remove your sandals from your feet for the place on which you are standing is holy ground".
God says " I have seen the pain of my people in Egypt and I have heard their cry. I will now descend to rescue him from Egypt and bring him up from that land to a good expansive land, a land that flows milk and honey, the place of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizites, Hivites and Jebusites. Go and assemble the elders of Israel and say to them...
Moses says "But they will not believe me and they will not listen to my voice, for they will say yhwh has not revealed himself to you.

God then shows Moses three signs to perform before the elders in order to prove his mission.

1. Moses’ staff is thrown to the ground and turned into a snake. When the tail is grasped, the snake turns into a staff again.
2. Hand is placed in bosom and becomes leprous and then healed when placed in the bosom again.
3. Water from the river is poured unto the dry land and is turned into blood.

P Account - God reveals himself to Moses and says "I am Yahweh; I have revealed myself to to the forefathers in the name ‘Shadai’ (=breasts/fertility) and I have not notified them of my Yahweh name... and so say to the children of Israel ‘I am yahweh and I will extract you from being under the hard work of Egypt and I will rescue you from their servitude and I will redeem you with a bent arm and big judgments. I will take you to be my people (you shall serve me) and I will be your God and you will know that I am Yahweh your god who is extracting you from the hard work of Egypt. I will bring you to the land which I swore to give to the patriarchs; I will give it to you as an inheritance".
Moses relates the word of God to the Israelites but the Israelites refuse to believe him because the work is so hard.
God asks Moses to go to Paraoh and ask him to release the Israelites from his land but Moses says "Behold, the children of Israel have refused to listen to me and how will Paraoh listen to me being that I have uncircumcised lips?"
God replies "Look, you will be like God to Paraoh and Aaron will be your messenger. You will speak to Aaron whatever I command you and Aaron will speak to Paraoh..."
God then tells Moses to perform several "wonders" if Paraoh asks for them.

1. Aaron drops his staff before Paraoh and it turns into a crocodile.
2. Aaron bends his staff on the rivers and lakes of egypt and the water turns into blood.
3. Aaron bends his staff on the rivers of Egypt and frogs emerge and cover the entire country.
4. Aaron bends his staff and smites the dirt of the land and the dirt turns into lice, which spread over the entire country and afflict both humans and animals
5. Moses and Aaron take soot from a furnace and sprinkle it towards the heaven. The dust spreads over the entire country and causes humans and animals to develop boils/bubbles.

Are the Egyptian Horoscopist able to replicate Aaron’s wonders?

1. Yes, but Aaron’s crocodile swallows the horoscopists’ crocodiles thus demonstrating the superiority of yahweh.
2. Yes, Egyptian horoscopists are able to perform the same wonder and so the supremity of Yahweh over the Egyptian gods is not demonstrated.
3. Yes. Same as 2.
4. No! Horoscopists tried to replicate Aaron’s wonder and produce lice from dirt but they were unsuccessful. They said "it is the finger of Yahweh" meaning that since they are unable to do it in the name of the Egyptian gods, it must be attributed to the Hebrew god Yahweh.
5. Not stated. The horoscopists were unable to stand in front of Moses because of the bubbles and perhaps this is why they never had a chance to try to replicate this wonder.

God says "Paraoh will not listen to you, so that I will multiply my wonders in the land of Egypt".
NOTE: In J there are three signs. In E there is one sign. In P there is no sign before the Hebrews but there are five wonders performed before Paraoh. The wonders act primarilly to prove the superiority of Yahweh and thereby convince Paraoh to release the Hebrews. The wonders do cause some inconvenience to the Egyptians and seem to suggest that Yahweh is punishing the Egyptians for enslaving his people, the Hebrews. However, the contrast between Aaron’s act and that of the horoscopist suggests that the primary purpose of the these wonders was to demonstrate the superiority of Yahweh. They should certainly not be conidered "plauges" according to P. In fact, the term "plauge" (negah) is never mentioned by P in this account.
Stop 1 - Departure from Egypt:

J account - Israelites slaughter the Pesach and firstborn Egyptians are smitten at midnight and paraoh sends his servants to moses (on the following day) to instruct the israelites that they can go.
E account - Firstborn Egyptians are smitten at midnight. Moses and Aaron are called before paraoh at night and told to leave immediately. The israelites leave immediately; their dough does not have a chance to become Chametz.
P account -
Stop 1B - the route

E account - God does not lead the Israelites in the way of the land of the Phillistines, which is the close route. Instead, he leads them in the way of the wilderness, the Sea of reeds. This is done in order to avoid having to fight a war with the tough philistines.
Israelites complain to Moses "are there no graves in Egypt that you have taken us to die in the wilderness (due to lack of food and water)?"
stop 2 - yhwh goes before the Israelites

J account - yhwh is going before the Israelites with a pillar of cloud during the day to show them the way and a pillar of fire (in the cloud perhaps?) during the night to provide lighting

E account - An angel of God goes before the Israelites
P account - ????
stop 3 - the crossing of the Sea of Reeds

J account - yhwh is fighting for the Israelites through the pillar of cloud and fire. He establishes a strong eastern wind all night which causes the water to dry out (=freeze) so that Israel can pass. He melts the sea water after the Israelites pass through and the Egyptians are running towards a melted sea and are "shook up" and drowned.

E account - The "angel of God" who usually goes before the Israelites is now going behind them (to separate them from the Egyptians). The angel of God removes the wheel of the egyptian chariots and the egyptians thus get stuck in the water.

P Account - As the Egyptians pursue the Israelites and get closer, the Israelites cry out to yahweh. Following God’s order, Moses bends his staff on the ocean water and causes it to split and form two walls. The Israelites pass through on the dry land of the ocean floor and the Egyptians follow but when Moses bends his staff again upon the water, the water melts and the Egyptians who are still in the water are sunk.

NOTE: In JE yhwh’s presence is embodied in the pillar of cloud and fire. Yhwh fights the Egyptians through this presence like a king fighting to protect his people. However, no outright miracle is performed. Personal attributes are ascribed to this god. In P there is no physical presence of God but the manner in which the sea "splits" and forms two walls is absolutely miraculous and is controlled by the staff of Moses.
stop 3B - The Song of the Sea

J account - Moses and the sons of Israel sing a lengthy poem to yhwh.

E account - Miriam, the sister of Aaron leads the women in singing a short song to yhwh. The women are playing tambourines and dancing.

P account - no song is mentioned
stop 4 - No water in the Wilderness (Wilderness of Marah, MasaWumeribah/Choreb, Qadesh/ Tzin/Meribath Qadesh)

J account - (Wilderness of Marah) The Israelites go three days in the wilderness without water. The israelites complain. They finally arrive at a site that has bitter water. Moses, upon instruction from Yhwh, throws a piece of wood into the water and the water becomes sweet. The site is named "marah" (=bitter)

E Account - (MasaWumeribah) The israelites skirmish with Moses and ask him to provide water. Moses says "Why do you skirmigh with me and why are you probing Yhwh (whether Yhwh is in their midst)? Choreb is mentioned in the account. It is also possible that this occured in Rephidim since the E event immediately following this is the Amalekite Rephidim event.
The israelites complain "Why have you brought us up from Egypt to cause us to die here in thrist?" Upon instruction from Yhwh, Moses passes before the Israelites and strikes a stone in "Choreb" before the elders of Israel and water comes forth from the stone. The site is called "MasaWumeribah" (=test and skirmish).

P account - (Qadesh/ Wilderness of Tzin) According to P this even occurs at the very end of the 40-year Israelite journey in the wilderness at the site where Miriam died. There was no water for the congregation and the people quarelled with Moses and said "we wish we had died along with our brothers before yhwh. Why have you brought the congregation of yhwh to this wilderness to die here, us and our animals? Why have you brought us up from Egypt to bring us to this bad place? It is not a place of seed, figs, wine and pomegrandes, and there is no water to drink!"

Moses, following god’s orders assembles the congregation to the face of the boulder and says "listen now, you rebels: shall we bring forth water from this boulder?" Moses then smites the boulder twice with his staff and lots of water emerges.

God says to Moses and Aaron "Because you did not have faith in me, to make me holy in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore you shall not bring the congregation to the land that I have given them". It seems that Moses was expected to talk to the boulder to produce water and thereby demonstrated the greatness and holiness of god and not produce the water by smiting it which would not seem so supernatural. The place is called MeiMeribah (= water of the quarrel) or MeribathQadesh (= quarrel of Qadesh).

NOTE: In J, there is almost no miracle involved in this event. It seems that God is showing Moses a certain kind of wood that sweetens bitter water naturally, thus allowing the israelites to quench their thirst through the available water. In E, water is produced miraculously by hitting the stone. In P, Moses is expected to go even further and not even hit the stone, just talk to it. He doesn’t trust god that this will work and he is serverely punished. P also explains why the place is called "qadesh"; it is because god was sanctified through the "water of the quarrel".
Stop 5 - Food in the wilderness (Choreb?)

JE account - Yhwh says "I will cause bread to rain from heaven and the people shall depart from the camp and gather the bread daily (from around the camp), so that I may probe the people as to whether they will follow my teaching or not. On the sixth day, there will be double portions and they shall prepare what they bring (for the following day, Sabbath)".
They gathered the bread daily and when the sun warmed it, the bread melted. (I believe that this verse belongs to JE).

P Account - (Wilderness of Sin between ailim and Sinai on the fifteenth day of the second month of the Exodus from Egypt). The congregation complains to Moses and Aaron and say "We wish we died at the hands of yhwh (a natural disater) in the land of Egypt when we were sitting at the pot of meat and eating bread until full. Why bring us to this wilderness to kill us in hunger?

Moses says to the Israelites to come close before yhwh because he has heard their complaint and will provide meat in the evening and bread in the morning. The glory of yhwh was then revealed in a cloud and yhwh promised Moses as such.

In the evening quails came up and covered the camp and in the morning, after the dew disappeared, the Israelites noticed a small, round thing like drops of ice on the ground. Moses explained that this is the bread that yhwh has given them to eat and he laid forth the rules, namely, they must not take more than what they can eat for that day (= one omer per person).
Some people disobeyed Moses and left over the bread until the morning. The bread accumulated worms and produced a foul smell. Moses was angry at those people.

On the sixth day, some men collected double portions. The chieftains of the community told Moses but this time Moses agreed and said "That (collecting double portions on friday) is what yhwh spoke! Tomorrow is a holy Sabbath to yhwh. What has to be cooked and baked (for tomorrow) shall be done now and the remainder (whatever cannot be eaten today) you shall keep until the morning".

Once again, some people did not listen to Moses and went out on Sabbath to look for the "man" bread but did not find any. Yhwh was angry.

NOTE: In the JE account there is no meat. There is also no mention of any complaint on the part of the people that prompted the provision of "man". There is no direct mention in JE of the two incidents in which some people did not follow god’s "command and teaching": they left over until the morning and they went out on the Sabbath. However, the mention of a "test whether they will follow my teaching" in the JE account may allude to theese incidents which demonstrated that the people had failed the test. In JE, the bread melts at noon while in P the bread becomes rotten if left overnight (which implies that it does not melt at noon).
Stop 6 - Amalek fights Israel (Rephidim, Negebh/mountain)

P account - **J account according to elliott** (occurs after sending of the spies in the region adjacent to the negebh/mountain) The Amalakite and Canaanite dwell in the mountain (which the spies used to enter the land?). Upon hearing yhwh’s decree following Israel’s refusal to conquer canaan due to the report of the spies, the people are very saddened and they changed their mind and said "we are ready, let us go up to the place that god said for we have sinned". The following morning they went up the mountain to fight the Amalekites and Canaanites against moses’ advice and they are defeated and pursued until "charmah" (=destruction).

E account - (occurs before the sending of spies in Rephidim) Amalek attacks Israel. Moses ascends to the top of the mountain and lifts up his hand holding the staff of god. This causes the Amaelkites to lose. Moses writes in the book of memories "Yhwh will erase the male Amalekites from underneath the heaven". Moses builds an altar named "YahwehNesi" (=yhwh is my flagstaff) and offers sacrifices to yhwh (assumed).

NOTE: The origin of the name charmah differs according to the two accounts. In P, the origin is as described above but in J, the canaanite king of Arad fights the Israelites in the Negebh and the Israelites eventually defeat him and destroy his cities and call the place charmah. (This is why I disagree with Elliott on the source of this account) In P, there is no mention of any battle with the Amalekites at Rephidim (which is identified as the place where the israelites camped before Sinai Ex 19:2). It is noteworthy that the two events of Amalek and Meribah seem to be connected chronologically in both accounts. According to E Amalek occured in Rephidim and Meribah occured in Choreb immediately afterwards. Even though the story of Meribah is told before Amalek in Ex chapter 17, it must have occured first, because we know from P that the Israelites went from Rephidim to Choreb/Sinai (Ex 19:2). According to P Amalek occured in Qadesh/Paran (Num 14:40) and Meribah occured in Qadesh/Tzin (Num 20) immediately afterwards. There seems to have been a tradition connecting the two events.
stop 7 - Moses’ Father-in-law comes to the wilderness (the mountain of God in Choreb, Sinai)

J account - (at mount Sinai) Chabab the son of Reuel the Midianite visits Moses in the wilderness (to return his wife and kids?) and apparently spends some time there (assumed) and acts as the "eyes" of Israel. Moses asks him to go along with his people and that he will be rewarded once Israel conquers the land but Chabab refuses and returns to his land in Midian. Exodus 34.

E account - (at the mountain of God) Yethrau, a midianite priest brings moses’ wife and two kids to Moses who is camped at the mountain of God in the wilderness (of Choreb). Yethrau hears all that Yhwh had done for Israel and brings burnt offerings and peace offerings to God. Aaron and the elders of Israel join Yethrau for the meal held in front of God.

Moses Judges the people all day. When people come to "query god", Moses judges between the two litigants and notifies them the ordinances and teachings of God. Yethrau advises moses to function as an intermediary between god and the people ONLY, notifying them the ordinances and teachings of God but delegating regular judgements to "people of strength who fear god, men of truth who hate unjust gain". Yethrau returns to his land (Midian).

NOTE: It is almost certain that the E account occurs after Moses had issued the various laws contained in Parashath Mishpatim (Exodus 21-24) because in it Moses says "and I make them know the statutes of God, and his laws". Furthermore, Yethrau is said to have come to the mountain of God and "mountain of god" is associated with the issue of the decalog in the E account (Ex 19:2-3 and Ex 24:13).

According to E, then, the order of things is as follows: departure from Egypt, crossing of the red sea, issue of statutes and judgements (in Marah?), provision of bread from heaven, Meribah, Amalek in Rephidim, Revelation at Mountain of God (Choreb), Yethrau at Mountain of God, Golden calf, tent of meeting, Taberah (burning), provison of quail at Qebroth Hatawah, snowwhite Miriam at Chatseroth, report of the spies in the wilderness of Paran (qadesh), Nehushtan, Bele’am.

According to J, the order is as follows: departure from Egypt, crossing of the red sea, Marah/Meribah, provision of bread from heaven, revelation at mount Sinai & issue of the Decalog, Chabab (Yethrau) at Sinai, report of the spies, Dathan and Abiram, circumvension of Edom, defeat of canaanites at Charmah, Defeat of Amorites and Bashanites, Heresy of Peor, Appointment of Joshua.
stop 8 - The covenant (Choreb, Sinai)

E account (at the mountain of god, in Choreb?) - Israel camps against the mountain. Moses ascends the mountain of God and god proposes a covenant with Israel "You shall harken my voice and keep my covenant and in return I will choose you from amongst all the nations to be my precious jewel. You will be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation". The elders of Israel agree and Moses notifies Yhwh.

Yhwh says "I will come (from heaven) to you in a thick cloud so that the people hear me speak to you and thus trust you forever". Moses notifies the people.

There was a loud sound of the trumpet (from the mountain of God) and the people were frightened. Moses led the people from the camp to the bottom of the mountain. He spoke to God and God answered him with a sound (emerging from the thick cloud). The scripture does not state what the topic of conversation was.

The people saw the lightning and smoking mounatin and heard the thunder and the sound of the trumpet and trembled and asked moses that God no longer speak to them (=to moses in front of them) lest they die. Moses explains that god came to lay forth the commandments and "test" israel whether they will keep them AND so that the fear of god will be on the Israelite faces and they will not sin. Nonetheless, moses agrees that God will no longer speak to them and god henceforth spoke only to moses from the thick cloud and the people stood from afar.

God speaks words and judgements to Moses (alone) on the mountain and Moses then relates those items to the people. The people say "we will do all the words that yahweh has said". The following day, Moses builds an altar and slaughters oxen as peace offerings to yhwh. Moses writes down the words of yhwh and reads the book of the covenant in the ears of the people; the people reply "we will do and listen to all that yhwh has said". Moses sprinkles half the blood on the people and half the blood on the altar and says "behold, this is the blood of the covenant that yhwh has made with you over all these words".

Moses, Aaron, the priests and the elders of Israel ascend the mountain but only Moses is allowed to go to the top. The others protrate, see god and "envision" God from afar; they eat and drink and then descend. Moses and his servant Joshua alone then ascend the mountain of God while Aaron and Chur remain with the people to judge them. God fashions two tablets of stone and engraves the law and the Commandment on them (both sides) over the course of 40 days and hands it to Moses. However, when Moses descends the mountain and sees the calf and the dancing, he shatters the tablets at the bottom of the mountain. It seems inappropriate to present the tablets of the law to a sinful people.

J account - (at mount Sinai) Moses says to the people to wash their clothes, abstain from sex and prepare for the third day on which yhwh will descend unto mount Sinai for all to see. Nobody may ascend the mountain until the yobel trumpet sounds. On the third day, in the morning there was thunder and lightning, a heavy cloud on the mountain, a loud sound of the trumpet and Mount Sinai was full of smoke because yhwh had descended unto it in a fire.
Yhwh calls Moses to the top of the mountain and instructs him to warn the people against ascending the mountain but moses says that he has already done so. Yhwh then says "descend and come back up with Aaron and the priests but the people shall not break through to come up lest yhwh will break forth among them". Moses descends to the people and tells them.

Finally, Moses (along with the preists) ascends to Mount Sinai (in the morning, still) and takes along two stone tablets. Yhwh descends unto the mountain in a cloud and stands alongside moses (for all to see). Moses calls in the name of yhwh and yhwh passes by and calls out "yhwh is a merciful and gracious God, slow to anger, and abundant in lovingkindness and truth, keeping lovingkindness for thousands, forgiving iniquity, disobedience and sin; but he will by no means clear the guilty completely, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, and on the children`s children, on the third and on the fourth generation."

Yhwh says "Behold, I make a covenant: before all your people I will do marvels, such as have not been worked in all the earth, nor in any nation; and all the people among which you are, shall see the work of Yahweh that he does with you, for he is fearful. In return, you shall keep whatever I command you today..." and Yhwh goes on issuing to Moses the ten articles of the covenant over the course of 40 days during which Moses did not eat or drink. Moses writes the ten articles of the covenant on the two stone tablets he had brought with him.

P Account - For six days a cloud covered mount Sinai and the glory of god manifested in the form of a consuming fire at the top of the mountain was visible to all the children of Israel. On the seventh day, yahweh called unto Moses from the cloud and Moses ascended the mountain and came into the cloud. God first relates the decalog directly to the people and then Moses spends some time on the mountain (probably 40 days) while God tells him all the laws of the tabernacle, incense and vestments (Chap. 25-28 and parts of 30) as well as ritual law (Chap. 29 and parts of 30) and lastly the law of Sabbath (Ex 31:12). When finished, God writes down the laws on "two stone tablets of the testimony" and gives them to Moses.

Moses descends the mountain with the two tablets of the testimony in his hands but he is not aware that the skin of his face had become shiny (burnt?) while speaking with yahweh. Aaron and the chieftains are afraid to approach Moses but when Moses calls them they return to him and Moses relates to them all that yahweh had spoken to him on Mount Sinai. When Moses is done delivering the sermon, he places a mask on his face so that people are not afarid to come close to him. He keeps the mask ONLY when not communicating with God or delivering Fod’s word to the people. It seems that the reason he does not don the mask while delivering his sermon is so that the people see his chiny face and learn to respect him. Once done with the sermon, he dons the mask so that ordinary people are not afraid to approach him.

NOTE: In JE the revelation at Sinai is depicted as an encounter between God and Moses, NOT a revelation to the general crowd. In J, the covenant proposal and the decalog is spoken to Moses while everyone is watching. This seems to confirm that Moses is indeed the messenger of God. However, God never communicates directly with the people. The language of Ex 34:10 clearly shows that God is speaking to Moses only. In E the purpose of the revelation is to establish the people’s trust in Moses as they witness God talking with Moses (Ex 19:9). Again, god is talking to Moses only, relating to him not only the decalog but the various statutes and judgements contained in Parashath Mishpatim (Ex 20:19-23:33). Only in P is the Sinai revelation depicted as a message from God directly to the people.

Moreover, in E, the decalog does not exist as a distinct entity altogether. Ex 23:12-24 is not separated from the rest of the laws in any way. They are just part of the general law code issued to Moses on the mountain of God which was later written down and read before the people (Ex 24:4-7). In J, there are no laws other than the Decalog (Ex 34:10-25). In essence, the declog is all the law the Israelites were ever given. Only in P is there a major distinction between the decalog (Ex 20:2-14) and the rest of the law which was given to Moses piecemeal at the two cherubs (Ex 25:22) over the course of Israel’s journey in the wilderness. How do I know that it wasn’t all given at once? Ex 34:34-35 describes a routine, not a one-time incident. In addition, Ex 35:1 describes how Moses related to Israel the first batch of laws about the Tabernacle and its ritual and Sabbath. No other laws are told to Moses in the preceding chapters and no other laws are related by Moses to the people in the ensuing chapters.

In J, the theme of three is commonplace: Israel goes three days in Marah without water (Ex 15:22), Israel prepares for the revelation at Sinai for the third day (Ex 19:10-11). In E, no preparation is mentioned. In P it is a six day preparation (Ex 24:16).

Who writes the code onto the tablets?

In J it is Moses who sculpts the tablets and it is Moses who then writes the decalog onto the tablets over the course of 40 days and gives them to Israel Ex 34:27-28). The tablets are never broken or replaced in J! In E it is God who creates the tablets and it is god who writes the "law and the commandment" on them (Ex 24:12). This seems to suggest that the entire covenant code (Ex 21:1-23:19) is written down, which is what we would expect since in E there is no distinction between the declog and the rest of the covenant code. These tablets are then broken by Moses in reaction to the Golden calf sin and they are never replaced! The story of a new set of tablets (Ex 34:1) seems to be RJE (redactor of JE) material in an attempt to find a niche for the J Sinai revelation story. In P, they are called "tablets of testimony", they are made of stone and are written by the finger of god (Ex 31:18). They are kept in a special gold-plated ark, the "ark of the testimony", which assumes major significance to the Israelites as a sign of yahweh’s presence. This ark is mentioned in J too but there it is called "ark of the covenant" and it does not state explicitly that the tablets were kept there (Ex 10:33-35).
The golden calf episode

stop 9 - The report of the Spies (Qadesh?)

J account - Moses sent spies to the land they intended to conquer. They visited the following:

* Amalekites who reside in the negebh, southern, desert region of palastine.
* Hittite, Jebusite and Amorites who reside in the mountain.
* Canaanites who reside alongside the ocean and alongside the Jordan.

They brough back some fruit, which looked good but the spies claimed that the people are too strong. Caleb, was the only spy who disagreed and said that the people are conquerable. And so the people wept and said "let us appoint a leader and return to Egypt".

Yhwh said to Moses "Until when will this people vex me and not have faith in me, in all the signs that I have performed in his midst?" Yhwh proposed to eradicate the Israelite people and create a new, more faithful, nation out of moses but moses pleaded with yhwh not do so and to forgive the people’s iniquity. Yhwh said that he will forgive; however, the generation that saw the glory of yhwh and his "signs" in Egypt and the wilderness but refused to harken the voice of yhwh, will not see the land, except for Caleb.
stop 10 - The rebellion against Moses by Dathan and Abiram (Qadesh?)
Stop 11 - Conquering the Transjordan Land of Sichon and Og (Amorites and Bashanites)

J account - The Israelites arrive at Qadesh at the border of Edom and ask permission from the edomites to pass their land. The Edomites refuse and the Israelites turned away from Edom (encircling the land instead).

The canaanite king of Arad feels threatened and attacks Israel. After initial success, he is eventually repelled and defeated. Israel destroys Arad and some of the neighboring canaanite cities and calls the place "charma". They apparently have no interest in settling the "negebh" desert lands and so they move east to go around Edom and then north with the intention of conquering some land in the transjordan north of Edom.

Israel passes the brook of Zered and enters Moabite territory and then arrives at the brook of Arnon. They request permission from Sichon the Amorite king of Cheshbon to pass through his land. Sichon refuses and gathers his entire people to fight the Israelites at "yahtza". The Israelites are victorious and inherit the land from the brook of Arnon in the south until the Yabok river to the north and the Ammonite border to the east.

The israelites then pass the Yabok river and ascend the way of the "bashan". Og the king of the Bashan and his entire people go out against them and fight them in "adrai". Once the again the israelites are victorious and they inherit his land.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

The three Israelite Holidays

Amazingly, the three original Holidays mentioned in the JE text are so different from the holidays that evolved later that they are alomst unrecognizable. P era holidays (circa 600 BCE), which are only 200 years afterward the JE Era, had assumed an entirle new face. I know this through careful exegesis of the Bible, specifically the different "documents/sources" of the Bible.

I will start with the J text. The J document we have only mentions the holidays once. In fact, no laws are ever mentioned anywhere else in the entire J document. This means that not only are Pesach Shavuoth and Sukkoth only mentioned once, but Sabbath, Matzah, Bikkurim and Peter Rechem are also only mentioned once and all other commandments are either from E or P.

Ex 34:11 Observe that which I command you this day.

Article 1 Behold, I drive out before you the Amorite, the Canaanite, the Hittite, the Perizzite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite. Be careful, lest you make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land where you are going, lest it be for a snare in the midst of you: but you shall break down their altars, and dash in pieces their pillars, and you shall cut down their Asherim.

Article 2 For you shall not bow down to another god: for Yahweh, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God. Don`t make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land, lest they play the prostitute after their gods, and sacrifice to their gods, and one call you and you eat of his sacrifice; and you take of their daughters to your sons, and their daughters play the prostitute after their gods, and make your sons play the prostitute after their gods.

Article 3 You shall make no cast idols for yourselves.

Article 4 You shall keep the feast of unleavened bread. Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, as I commanded you, at the time appointed in the month Abib; for in the month Abib you came out from Egypt. All that opens the womb is mine; and all your cattle that is male, the firstborn of cow and sheep. The firstborn of a donkey you shall redeem with a lamb: and if you will not redeem it, then you shall break its neck. All the firstborn of your sons you shall redeem. No one shall appear before me empty. Six days you shall work, and on the seventh day you shall rest.

Article 5 In plowing time and in harvest time you shall rest: You shall observe a septuple feast with the first-fruits of wheat harvest.

Article 6 And the feast of Gethering at the year`s end. Three times in the year all your males shall appear before the Lord Yahweh, the God of Israel. For I will drive out nations before you and enlarge your borders; neither shall any man desire your land when you go up to appear before Yahweh, your God, three times in the year.

Article 7 You shall not offer the blood of my sacrifice with leavened bread.

Article 8 Neither shall the sacrifice of the feast of the Passover be left to the morning.

Article 9 You shall bring the first of the first-fruits of your ground to the house of Yahweh your God.

Article 10 You shall not boil a young goat in its mother`s milk.

I will now explain each of these articles.

Article One Commentary: It may seem that this Article consists of two separate commands. One is not to make a covenant with the Canaanites and the other is to destroy their altars etc... In fact, if we really want we can break it down even further: "you shall break down their altars, and dash in pieces their pillars, and you shall cut down their Asherim" could be seen as constituting three separate commands. However, this is not that way these articles were intended. The Ten Articles are designed to issue commands in ten separate areas. Not every clause is a command unto itself. Somestimes, several clauses are needed in order to drive the point home and that's just the case here. The overall idea here is not to befriend the Canaanites and create an atmosphere where you will be obliged or inclined to honor their gods. This is expounded upon in the Second part of Article Two: "Don`t make a covenant with ...". If you make a military convenant with them not to attack each other and to come to each other's defense, then you will be invited to their feasts and eat from their sacrifices (which is still okay) and you will be attracted to their daughters and their daughters will in turn convince you to start worshipping the Canaanite gods. Rather, you shall destroy their religious altars, pillars and Asherah trees so that you don't come to worship their gods through these items. We thus see that this is actually a single, monolithic article.

In Exodus 23, which contains the E Ten Articles parallel to the J Articles, we see the following:

Ex 23:24 You shall not bow down to their gods, nor serve them, nor follow their practices, but you shall utterly overthrow them and demolish their pillars. Ex 23:25 You shall serve Yahweh your God, and he will bless your bread and your water… Ex 23:32 You shall make no covenant with them, nor with their gods. They shall not dwell in your land, lest they make you sin against me, for if you serve their gods, it will surely be a snare to you."

As you can see, all the bold parts of these verses are a repetition of language used in article two of the J source. We also see that that these phrases combine to form a single idea and we therefore rightfully consider all of this as a single article.

Article Two Commentary: "You shall not prostrate to another El!". El was a Canaanite deity and was a very popular deity throughout the Near East in those days. When the Israelites emerged onto the scene in 1200 BCE they adopted this deity and merged it with the Yahweh deity. This is why we find that El in the bible often refers to the same deity as yahweh. Thus, yahweh was not considered exclusive of El like he was considered exclusive from other deities. He was considered to be "another El", a different kind of El, a more powerful, more sophisticated and more just El. The Article here is admonishing against prostrating and worsjipping any El other that Yahweh.

The parallel of this article in the E source is as follows:

Ex 23:24 You shall not bow down to their gods, nor serve them, nor follow their practices.

Again, we see that E uses similar language and also clarifies that all acts of worship are forbidden, not just protrating before their God.

This is a completely separate command from article one. Article one talks about making a militray covenant with the Canaanites and allowing them to maintain their pagan lifestyle. This article talks about actually worshipping their gods. It may seem obvious that no worship of their gods is allowed once we say that even a covenant with them is not allowed. However, this is not so. In a sense, a covenant with pagans could be considered a greater sin against yahweh, for a covenant is permanent and binding while an isolated act of worship does not imply that one is completely and permanently submitting to that particular deity.

Article Three Commentary: "You shall make no cast idols for yourselves!" This article does not talk about worshipping a deity other than yahweh. This is talking about worshipping yahweh by means of a cast idol. The practice of representing deities in cast metals was very common in those days. That did not mean that the worshipper believed that the inanimate idol had any intrinsic powers; that would be foolish and naive. It was simply a way of representing their Gods in forms that are readily perceived by the senses and performing acts of worship to the all-powerful storm god (Baal), sun god (Amon Re, Shamash) or moon god through those idols. The practice of idolatry is what this article forbids and the Golden Calf that the Israelites made in the wilderness violated this article. Recall that when Aaron made the golden calf he said to the Israelites "These are your gods, oh Israel, which have extricated you from the land of Egypt!". He did not introduce any new deity; he was just representing Yahweh in these golden calves and allowing the people a sensual perception of Yahweh in their midst, in the absence of Moses.

Why does it mention "molten gods"? That's because at the time that this article was codified in 800 BCE, the temple in Jerusalem contained two golden cherubs which represented the presence of yahweh in the tample. The golden cherubs, however, were gold-plated and not cast in metal. Thus, the wording of this article was designed so as not to contravene the established norms of society. This is further illustrated when we take a look at the parallel article in E:

Ex 20:23
You shall not make alongside me gods of silver, and you shall not make any gods of gold for youselves.

E which was written by disenfranchised Levitte priests in the norther kingdom of Israel, had no interest in legitimizing the golden cherubs in the Jerusalem temple. Nor did they approve of the golden calves that Jeroboam had established in BethEl and Dan. To them, these idols were equally abhorrant and unacceptable. Yahweh should not be represented in any form of gold silver, molten or plated.

Article Four Commentary: "You shall keep the feast of unleavened bread..." This is by far the most complicated and controversial of all the articles and I will elaborate on this as best as I could. Let's start with the verse that seems to talk about Sabbath:

Ex 34:21 Six days you shall work, but on the seventh day you shall rest: in plowing and in harvest you shall rest.

At a first glance, this verse talks about the weekly Sabbath: Six days you may work (in the field)but on the seventh day of the week you shall rest from plowing and harvesting. This is also the tradition interpretation of this verse. However there are some serious problems with this interpretation:

1. Why is this verse dropped in the middle of the discussion about the three festivals? Verse 18 talks about the feast of Unleavened-Bread ("Matzoth") and verse 22 talks about the Septuple feast ("shabuoth") and the Gathering feast ("Asiph"). Verse 19 that talks about donating firstborn humans and animals to yahweh is understood in the context of the Unleavened-Bread feast: when you come to see my face (in the temple) on the Unleavened-Bread festival do not come empty-handed but bring along your firstborn humans and animals and sacrifice them to yahweh. The term "You shall not see my face empty-handed" gives it away. It's obviously talking about a time when one comes to see the face of Yahweh and that is on the UB feast, as articulated in verse 23: Three times in the year all your males shall appear before the Lord Yahweh, the God of Israel. But observance of the weekly Sabbath has no connection whatsoever to the three annual feasts and so why is it mentioned here? Furthermore, in E this material is missing completely; there is no mention of any Sabbath or firstborn donation among the three festivals.

2. The Hebrew term Charish (plowing) and Katzir (harvest) do NOT refer to acts of plowing or harvesting; they refer to the seasons of plowing and harvesting. Note that these nouns are constrcuted in the same model of Asiph (gathering, verse 22) and Abibh (corn, verse 18) which has only one meaning: the season when one gathers his produce from the field into his house and the season when the corn ripens. It makes no sense to say that the weekly Sabbath shall be observed in the plowing and harvesting season. Does the weekly Sabbath not apply during other annual seasons?

3. In E (where Sabbath is mentioned separately), the phrase "you shall rest in plowing and harvest" is not present: Ex 23:12 "Six days you shall do your work, and on the seventh day you shall rest, so that your ox and your donkey may have rest, and the son of your handmaid, and the alien may be refreshed".

4. There is absolutely no mention of the weekly Sabbath anywhere else in the J source. Thus if Ex 34:21 does indeed talk about the weekly Sabbath, isn't this major command that deserves some serious attention?

5. In all other places where the weekly Sabbath is mentioned there is a reason given why the Sabbath is so important. In E, it's so that one's servants may rest; in P, it's because god rested on the seventh day; in D it's because we were slaves in Egypt. Why does J not give a reason for this major command?

I have gone to great lengths to demonstrate that Ex 34:21 does NOT talk about the weekly Sabbath. The reason this is so important to me is because the foundation of Judaism has now been shattered. The absence of any mention of the weekly Sabbath in the J text implies that at best the J Sabbath was characterized by some special worship in some circles of society. If the ordinary citizen was required to rest on every seventh day, it surely would have been mentioned among the Ten Articles or elsewhere in J.

One of the only instances of "sabbath" in scriptures during the JE period is in 2 kings 4:23 where the husband of the Shunamite asks her why she wants to go to Elisha "He said, Why will you go to him today? it is neither new moon nor Sabbath?" We see that the Sabbath is comparable to a new moon. The new moon is NOT considered a day of rest in P literature. There were some special sacrifices in the temple on the new moon but work is not prohibited. Therefore, from this juxtaposition of Chodesh and Sabbath, we can assume that in JE, the Sabbath recurred often just like the Chodesh (unlike the seasonal festivals) and it was observed in a similar manner to the Chodesh, namely, special sacrifices in the temple but no general observance by the multitudes.

This point, however, is debatable. The Sabbath command in E is mentioned together with the seventh-year Release (Shemitah) command:

Ex 23:10 For six years you shall sow your land, and shall gather in its increase, but the seventh year you shall let it rest and lie fallow, that the poor of your people may eat; and what they leave the animal of the field shall eat. In like manner you shall deal with your vineyard and with your olive grove. Six days you shall do your work, and on the seventh day you shall rest, that your ox and your donkey may have rest, and the son of your handmaid, and the alien may be refreshed.

We thus see that in E, the seventh-day Sabbath is comparable to the seventh-year Shemitah: a time when no field work is permissable. This stands in direct contrast to the 2 Kings story where it seems that Sabbath is not a major rest day. It is possible that the E text was codified at a somewhat later stage in the E religion when Sabbath observance was intensified. Regardless, this is all E material; the J text that could be talking about Sabbath has now been proven not to and so in J there is no weekly Sabbath. There is more that I wish to talk about Sabbath but this would detract from our "ten articles" discussion and so I will leave that for another time.

What does Ex 34:21 talk about? Simple! It talks about the observance of the festival of Passover, referred to in J as the "Unleavened-Bread festival". Six days we are told to "work" and on the seventh day we are told to "rest". Resting here means observance of the feast of Pesach; that is, bringing a lamb to the temple and offering it as a sacrifice. In J terminology, resting is synonymous with feasting, because when one rests there is nothing else to do but feast and when one feasts, he is by definition parting and not tilling the field.

But the question remains what kind of work do we do in the first six days? The most likely explanation here is that it means "six days you may work". It is not a command that one shall work like the seventh-day rest is a command. Thus, J is saying that although Matzah must be eaten all seven days, only the seventh day is a rest/feast day. During the first six days, one may only eat Matzah but one must not be physically present in the temple. This is the only way in which the JE Passover holiday can be understood properly: The feast takes place on the seventh day, NOT the first day and the feast lasts for one day only. Note that even though D states that the passover feast shall take place on the first day, it still admits that on the following morning one may return to his tent (Deut 16:7). Thus, it seems that it was a longstanding tradition that the passover feast is held on the day before one returns home and this tradition was preserved by D even after it moved the feast day to the first day of the seven day Matzah festival.

What was done with all the leftover meat? Obviously, one cannot consume an entire lamb in one day. But you must realize that the Passover sacrifice was never intended to be consumed by a single person or family. The Passover sacrifice is no different than the "peace-offering" (shelamim) mentioned throughout the P text. Those peace-offerings were designed to be shared between the feaster, the priest and yahweh: the fats and blood goes to Yawhweh (placed on the altar), most of the meat is kept by the feaster and consumed by family and friends and certain sections -- such as the breast and thigh -- go to the priest who officiates the sacrifice and ensures that it is done properly and that Yahweh is satisfied. Furthermore, as we shall see in article eight (verse 25), the Passover sacrifice was not allowed to be left over until the following morning. This law supports the notion that the passover sacrifice was made on the seventh day and since the following day was not an official feast day, the entire animal had to be consumed on the evening of the seventh day.

The E parallel to Exodus 34:21 "Six day you may work and on the seventh day you shall rest" is not the E verse that talks about the weekly Sabbath Exodus 23:12, for we have already established that J is not talking here about a weeklt Sabbath. The Parallel is found Exodus 13:6 "Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, and in the seventh day shall be a feast to Yahweh". That is the Masoretic version of the text. However, the Septuagint translation reads "Six days you shall eat UB..." and since the Septuagint text is considered more ancient and more reliable we will go with it instead. Note, however, that the Septuagint deviation from the Masoretic text does not imply any material difference in the observance of the Matzah law. The intent of the Septuagint version is the same as that of the Masorete version: Matzah shall be eaten all seven days. It is just expressed differnetly in the Septuagint. It means: six days you shall eat Matzah while you go about performing your own chores, but on the seveth day you shall hold a feast before yahweh (at the Jerusalem temple) in addition to eating Matzah. This is the very same idea expressed in our J text: Six days you may work (while eating Matzah) but on the seventh day you shall rest (in addition to eating Matzah).

Exodus 34:21 is an explanation of verse 18. It explains how the seven Matzah days are broken down: six days just Matzah and the seventh day the feast as well. The parallel in E to verse 18 is, of course, Exodus 23:15: Seven days you shall eat Matzah, as I have commanded you...

Another important verse which carries that same instruction, Exodus 13:7: You shall eat Matzah for seven days and you shall not see unleavened-bread; and you shall not see sourdough within your entire border. This particular verse, I believe, was part of the original J text (it pretty much duplicates the previous E verse). The JE redactor (JER) saw no need to create a separate J account of how the law of Matzah came into being and instead dropped this J verse in the middle of the E account. This provides a precedent in both J and E to the law of Matzah. The precedence of the Matzah law is stated clearly "asher tsiwithichah" (=that I have commanded you) in both the J and E version of the Ten Articles (Ex 34:18 and Ex 23:15). It implies that the command to eat Matzah is not novel to the Ten Articles; it had already been mentioned previously in the text and that is Ex 13:7 for J and Ex 13:6 for E.

Firstborn of Oxen and Sheep and Firstboen of Humans (in J)

This is the other clause that is sandwhiched in betwen the three festivals in the J text of Exodus 34; I should say it is the only clause, now that we have concluded that the Sabbath clause talks about the Passover festival. The question is how exactly is the donation of the firstborn related to Passover? We will start with Exodus 12 & 13. Exodus 12 & 13 contain a series of proto-Israel for-generation commands and they are attributed to the E source (if they are not E, they are J; they are definitely extremely old and they don't fit the profile of P).

Ex 12:24 You shall observe this thing for an ordinance to you and to your sons forever. It shall happen when you have come to the land which Yahweh will give you, according as he has promised, that you shall keep this service.

It will happen, when your children ask you, `What do you mean by this service?` that you shall say, `It is the sacrifice of Yahweh`s Passover, who passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt, when he struck the Egyptians, and spared our houses.`

Ex 13:3 Moses said to the people, Remember this day, in which you came out from Egypt, out of the house of bondage; for by strength of hand Yahweh brought you out from this place. No leavened bread shall be eaten. This day you go forth in the month Abib.

It shall be, when Yahweh shall bring you into the land of the Canaanite, and the Hittite, and the Amorite, and the Hivite, and the Jebusite, which he swore to your fathers to give you, a land flowing with milk and honey, that you shall keep this service in this month. Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, and in the seventh day shall be a feast to Yahweh. Unleavened bread shall be eaten throughout the seven days; and no leavened bread shall be seen with you, neither shall there be yeast seen with you, in all your borders.

You shall tell your son in that day, saying, `It is because of that which Yahweh did for me when I came forth out of Egypt.` It shall be for a sign to you on your hand, and for a memorial between your eyes, that the law of Yahweh may be in your mouth; for with a strong hand Yahweh has brought you out of Egypt. You shall therefore keep this ordinance in its season from year to year.

It shall be, when Yahweh shall bring you into the land of the Canaanite, as he swore to you and to your fathers, and shall give it you, that you shall set apart to Yahweh all that opens the womb, and every firstborn which you have that comes from an animal. The males shall be Yahweh`s. Every firstborn of a donkey you shall redeem with a lamb; and if you will not redeem it, then you shall break its neck; and you shall redeem all the firstborn of man among your sons.

It shall be, when your son asks you in time to come, saying, `What is this?` that you shall tell him, `By strength of hand Yahweh brought us out from Egypt, from the house of bondage; and it happened, when Pharaoh would hardly let us go, that Yahweh killed all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both the firstborn of man, and the firstborn of animal. Therefore I sacrifice to Yahweh all that opens the womb, being males; but all the firstborn of my sons I redeem.` It shall be for a sign on your hand, and for symbols between your eyes: for by strength of hand Yahweh brought us forth out of Egypt.

Note how I divided these accounts into seven sections:

1A - Observance of the Pesach 12:24
1B - Explanation of Pesach to son 12:25-27
2 - Moses' preamble to the people vs 13:3-4
3A - Law of Matzah vs 13:5-7
3B - Explanation of Matzah to son vs 13:8-10
4A- Law of Firstborn vs 13:11-13
4B - Explanation of Firstborn to son vs 13:14-16

1A - Observance of Passover Sacrifice. This command does not tell us to offer a sacrifice to God named Pesach. Rather, it tells us HOW to offer our sacrifices to God. The fact that we will be bringing sacrifices to Yahweh at regular intervals during the year or on occasion depending on our economic status is assumed because animal sacrifices were virtually the only form of worship available in those days. What E is commanding us here is the form of worship: It explains that the blood of the sacrifice shall be placed on the lintel and doorpost of our homes and that we are not to depart our homes on the night of the offering. When shall we offer up this sacrifice ("Zebach")? It does not say! Do these rules apply to all sacrifices? Yes, That is precisely the point! Whenever we offer a sacrifice to yahweh, this procedure should be followed.

1B - Pesach. We are to explain the son that Israelite sacrifices our called "Passover" becasue Yahweh hopped over our houses when he smote the Egyptian firstborn. Again, we are not supplying a reason for offering sacrifices in general; this is self understood. Rather we are explaining to him why the sacrifice is carried out in this paricular way.

2 - Preamble. Moses is about to introduce two laws to Israel, the law of Matzah and the law of Firstborn. Of these, only the law of Matzah is time-specific to the month of "Abib". Therefore, he frist reminds the people that they are currently in the month of Abib and then he mentions the Matzah law FIRST which is specific to the month of Abib and tells the people to remember to perform Matzah in the Abib month annually.

3 - Matzah. The Law of Matzah is described here as applying to a seven-day period in the month of Abib. It also says that the seventh day of the Matzah observance is also a festival day. "Festival" or "feast" in biblical literature (Chag) always means the sacrifice of an animal. It does not specify when precisely to start the seven-day Matzah festival if we assume that "chodesh" means month. There is a possibility, though, that Chodesh here means new-moon and so the seven days start at the new moon in the Abib season.

4 - Firstborn. The Firstborn law is not time-specific. In 3A (13:5) it says "you shall work this work in this month" but the firstborn law is not applied to any specifc time. This suggests that all firstborn, regardless of when they are born, shall be offered up to yahweh in due time. And so if a cow gives birth immediately following one's return from temple, he could wait until his next temple journey to offer up the firstborn to yahweh.

In what way does the firstborn belong to Yahweh? This is not specified in any JE literature but it is explained in D (Deutoronomy 5:19). It says that we should sanctify the firstborn to yahweh and eat it before yahweh on an annual basis. In P (Numbers 18:15-18) it is explained that the Firstborn is to be sacrificed in the temple, the blood and sacrifice brought up on the altar to yahweh, and the flesh given to the priests. This contradicts D who says "you shall eat it", not the priest. Most likely, the JE concept of Firstborn was a mix between the two. Some parts of the animal were given to the priest and some were eaten by the owner. It is even possible that D does not mean that the owner should eat everything and P does not mean that the priest should eat everything and so there is no disagreement between the sources.

The question now remains: Does the firstborn offering fit the bill of the Passover sacrifice? Absolutely! Recall that the Passover sacrifice mentioned in Exodus 12:24-27 is NOT time-specific. It describes the rules of sacrifices in general and so these rules apply to firsborn sacrifices as well. Furthermore, there is no mention anywhere in JE as to the profile of feastly sacrifices in general (Zebach chag) and the Pesach in particular. And so it is entirely possible that the sacrifice of the Matzah festival (commonly called Pesach) as well as the feastly sacrifices of the other two annual festivals were intended to be firstborns.

This explains very well why the law of firstborn animals mentioned in the Ten Articles is listed right after the Law of the Matzah festival. This is because the firstborn sacrifice is part and parcel of the Matzah festival; it is the firstborn that is offered up as a "passover" sacrifice to yahweh. This also very neatly explains why article 8 (not to leave the passover sacrifice until the morning) is not mentioned until after J finished enumerating all three festivals. This is because all three sacrifices are called Passover, not just the Matzah festival sacrifice. Lastly we now understand that J and E do not differ in their concept of article 8. In E it says "The fat of my feast shall not be left over until the morning" not mentioning what kind of feast. If this applies to any feast, then according to the traditional distinction between Pesach and a general sacrifice, E article 8 is much broader than the J article 8 and almost contravenes it. But according to our explanation, there is no difference between a passover sacrifice and a general sacrifice. All sacrifices are called Passover and they all come from firstborns, if available.

Commentary on Article Five In plowing time and in harvest time you shall rest: You shall observe a septuple feast with the first-fruits of wheat harvest.

You immediately notice that I have taken the phrase "In plowing time and in harvest time you shall rest" and removed it from the end of the previous verse and instead appended it to the beginning of a new verse. This, however, is an obvious corollary to our previous comclusion that this phrase talks about the seasonal festivals of Shavuoth and Sukkoth and NOT the prohibited works of the Sabbath.

What might surprise you even more is the translation of the word "Shabuoth". It is commonly understood to mean "weeks" and it is almost certain that this was the understanding of P (Numbers 23:15) and D (Deut 16:9). But there are some serious problems with this interpretation.

1. It does not specify how many weeks. It is like calling the Pesach festival, a festival of months instead of a festival of Abib. That would not give us any idea at all as to when to celebrate the festival and neither does the term "festival of weeks".

2. All the other festivals in both J and E Ten Articles are described by adjectives preceded by "the": The Festival of Matzah, The Festival of Gathering, The Festival of Harvest. This is the only festival that omits the Hebrew letter He which means "the".

3. It is the only festival, named differently by J and E. Festival of Unleaveaned-Bread and Festival of Gathering are agreed upon by both texts but this one is named Festival of Harvest by E and Festival of Weeks by J. In fact, J itself associated it with the harvest season just a second ago "you shall rest in plowing time and in harvest time".

4. Moreover, it's not just a name difference. The very defintion of the Festival changes according to J. Take a look at the two versions of this article:

J: You shall make a festival of weeks with the firstfruits of the wheat harvest.
E: You shall keep the festival of harvest of the firstfruits of your work that you sow in the field.

In E, the festival is defined by the season of the firstfruit harvest just like the Festival of Gathering is defined by the season of gathering from the threshing floor and winery into the house. In J, the festival is defined by "weeks". We still don't know how many weeks and exactly how to count them but we know that it is defined by counting a number weeks from a fixed point in time. This stands in stark contrast the E definiton that this festival is just another seasonal festival that depends directly on the season.

Therefore, I a proposing that an error occured over the generations in the understanding and perhaps even in the spelling and pronunciation of the Hebrew term "Shabuoth". It originally was intended to mean not "weeks" but simply an entity that consists of seven units. The English word for this is "septuple". The Hebrew pronunciation of this word would have been "Shibe'ath". "Chag Shibe'ath" would thus be translated as "seven day feast". This festival would thus be very similar in structure to the Matzah festival held in the month of Abib: it lasts for seven days, the feast day (sacrifice of the animal) is on the seventh day and the first six days are celebrated with consumption of Matzah or Firstfruits of Wheat. What is the name of this festival? That is not given!

* This explains why there is no "he" preceding Shibe'ath. That's because Shibe'ath is NOT a proper name.

* It explains how the names of J and E are really compatible. The proper name is Festival of Harvest in both accounts but the J account omits this detail, even though it does hint at it by mentioning the word "harvest" in its description and in the introductory clause "you shall rest in plowing time and in harvest time.

* There is no counting towards the festival and there are no weeks involved according to both J and E. This is a seasonal festival just like the others.

How did this meaning come to be distorted over the ages? Simple! J and E material was codified (or atleast had begun to be codified) at the tribal age of Israel circa 900 BCE or earlier. Tribes in those days were entities unto themselves and there is even a very plausible possibility that not all tribes honored the Tabernacle of Shilo exclusively. Even if they did all sacrifice in Shiloh only, there couldn't have been too much coordination among them as to the timing of national festivals. Thus, Harvest season or Gathering season for one tribe does not necessarilly cooincide with that of another tribe. And so they would wind up all celebrating a seven-day feasts in Abib and in Harvest but not at the same time. This explains how it is possible for such a divergence of practice to exist without there being an clear consensus as to how to date the Harvest festival. After, the dissolution of the northern kingdom, perhaps as late as 650 BCE, the issue could have been taken up by the Judean priests (who took on the reponsibilities of the second temple scribe/rabbi as well) and they decided to count seven weeks from the start of the grain harvest season (month of Iyar/Ziv). Even this counting system was not agreed upon by both P and D. In P, the count is made from the morrow of Sabbath (Leviticus 23:15) and in D the count is made from the start of applying the sickle to the standing grain (Deut 16:9).

Finally, I would like to point out another difference between the P and D description of Shavuoth. Accroding to P we are to count seven "sabbaths" and according to D we are to count seven weeks. Is it possible that in the P tradition, the J text (Ex 34:22) read shin/beth/taw and not the Masoretic spelling of shin/beth/ayin/taw? Perhaps! that would neatly explain why they preferred to use the term Sabbath instead of the simpler term "Shabuah" meaning week.

Article Six Commentary. "And (you shall make) the feast of Gathering at the year`s end". According to our aforementioned understanding of the term Shabuoth, the question here is: is J implying that the Gathering Festival is not held for seven days like the previous two? This is uncertain! Even though it would seem at first glance that this is the case, it doesn't have to be this way. It could be understood either way and I will therefore not discuss this matter further at this point.

Article Seven Commentray. You shall not offer the blood of my sacrifice with leavened bread. Rabbinic opinion that Matzah only applies to Passover would be hard-pressed at the wording of this article. It does not mention Passover; it says that no sacrifice (of any of the three festivals) may be eaten with UB. According to our position that there are no major differnces among the three festivals, this article is properly worded and is meant literally: no sacrifice, even a sacrifice not related to the three festivals, may be offered up and eaten with UB.