I have talked throughout Exodus and the early chapters of Leviticus about the journey to Sinai being for the purpose of covenant renewal, the re-inauguration of the ancient religion of Mitsrayim, suppressed for nearly two centuries by the Hyksos conquerors. And now, everything having been put in place, we are about to witness the culmination of the event: the anointing of the Kohanim and the Mishkan. This, albeit in a very different form from the many forms of Judaism that are practised today, this is the historical moment, the one at which we can say that "what will eventually become Judaism began here". 8:1 VA YEDABER YHVH EL MOSHEH LEMOR
וַיְדַבֵּר יְהוָה אֶל מֹשֶׁה לֵּאמֹר
KJ (King James translation): And the LORD spake
unto Moses, saying,
BN(BibleNet translation): Then YHVH spoke to Mosheh, saying:
8:2 KACH ET AHARON VE ET BANAV ITO VE ET HA BEGADIM VE ET SHEMEN HA MISHCHAT VE ET PAR HA CHATA'T VE ET SHENEY HA EYLIM VE ET SAL HA MATSOT
KJ: And gather thou all
the congregation together unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.
BN: And gather the entire congregation at the door of the tent of meeting.
The use of the word "EDAH" is interesting in the context. A large group of slaves fleeing from a despotic ruler might be called "refugees" or "migrants" or "asylum seekers", or might be referred to as the "people", the "nation", even the "tribes" - but "congregation"? On the other hand, if, as was suggested throughout my commentaries on th Book of Exodus, one of the versions amalgamated in this tale this was not "slaves in flight" at all, but a large group of pilgrims bound for a three-day covenant renewal ceremony at the holy mountain - bound for the Chag/Hajj that is to say - and in that context the word "congregation" is entirely apt. 8:4 VA YA'AS MOSHEH KA ASHER TSIVAH YHVH OTO VA TIKAHEL HA EDAH EL PETACH OHEL MO'ED
KJ: And Moses did as the
LORD commanded him; and the assembly was gathered together unto the door of the
tabernacle of the congregation.
BN: And Mosheh did as YHVH instructed him; and the congregation was assembled at the door of the tent of meeting.
As I have done repeatedly, it needs repeating that there are an estimated 1.5 million of these congregants, so gathering them around the doorway of the Ohel becomes an interesting description - when they gather this many around the Ka'aba for the Moslem Hajj, they fill the foothills of both the surrounding hills, all the way from Safa to Marwah.
8:5 VA YOMER MOSHEH EL HA EDAH ZEH HA DAVAR ASHER TSIVAH YHVH LA'ASOT
KJ: And Moses brought
Aaron and his sons, and washed them with water.
BN: Then Mosheh brought Aharon with his sons, and washed them with water.
"Washed" is a generic term; what is happening here is ritual purification; and to parallel the Moslem Hajj again, the act there is known either as Ghusl or Wudu (click here for more detail). 8:7 VA YITEN ALAV ET HA KUTONET VA YACHGOR OTO BA AVNET VA YALBESH OTO ET HA ME'IL VA YITEN ALAV ET HA EPHOD VA YACHGOR OTO BE CHESHEV HA EPHOD VA YE'PHOD LO BO
KJ: And he put upon him
the coat, and girded him with the girdle, and clothed him with the robe, and
put the ephod upon him, and he girded him with the curious girdle of the ephod,
and bound it unto him
BN: And he put the tunic on him , and wrapped the girdle around him, and dressed him in the robe, and set the ephod on him, and tied the crocheted woven band of the ephod, and bound the ephod to him with it.
8:8 VA YASEM ALAV ET HA CHOSHEN VA YITEN EL HA CHOSHEN ET HA URIM VE ET HA TUMIM
KJ: And he sprinkled
thereof upon the altar seven times, and anointed the altar and all his vessels,
both the laver and his foot, to sanctify them.
BN: And he sprinkled some of it on the altar seven times, and anointed the altar and all its vessels, and the laver and its base, to sanctify them.
See Number Seven My references to the Hajj, above, were not accidental. A comparison of the traditional rituals and ceremonies of
the Ka'aba, from before Moslem times as well as after, would make for an interesting GCSE Religious Studies assignment. The Tawaf (seven circumambulations) as a starting-point. Note from the link the clothing, the Ihram, which is also remarkably similar to that which Aharon and his sons are wearing here.
8:12 VA YITSOK MI SHEMEN HA MISHCHAT AL ROSH AHARON VA YIMSHACH OTO LEKADSHO
KJ: And he poured of the
anointing oil upon Aaron's head, and anointed him, to sanctify him.
BN: And he poured some of the anointing oil on Aharon's head, and anointed him, to set him apart as holy.
You will notice that I am avoiding using the word "sanctify", which is the preference of most translators. "Sanctify" does indeed mean "to make holy", but it also yields the word "saint", which is a specifically Christian concept. Aharon is not being made a saint here.
8:13 VA YAKREV MOSHEH ET BENEY AHARON VA YALBISHEM KUTANOT VA YACHGOR OTAM AVNET VA YACHAVOSH LAHEM MI GEVA'OT KA ASHER TSIVAH YHVH ET MOSHEH
KJ: And he slew it; and Moses took
the blood, and put it upon the
horns of the altar round about with his finger, and purified the altar, and
poured the blood at the bottom of the altar, and sanctified it, to make
reconciliation upon it.
BN: And when it was slain, Mosheh took the blood, and sprinkled it all around the horns of the altar with his finger, and purified the altar, and poured the remaining blood out at the base of the altar, and sanctified it, to make atonement for it.
This needs checking, but did the previous version of this instruction not call for Aharon to do this, and not Mosheh? With a sentence of death on anyone else who touched it or sanctified it. Merivah previsaged, or a textual error? Or just me misremembering!
8:16 VA YIKACH ET KOL HA CHELEV ASHER AL HA KEREV VE ET YOTERET HA KAVED VE ET SHETEY HA KELAYOT VE ET CHELB'HEN VA YAKTER MOSHEH HA MIZBECHAH
KJ: And he killed it; and Moses
sprinkled the blood upon the altar round about.
BN: And when it was killed, Mosheh dashed the blood all around the altar.
Yet again, why Mosheh? Wasn't the instruction for the priests to do this? Are we becoming less and less surprised about what happened later at Kadesh (Merivah)? Or is it that Mosheh has to do this, because Aharon and the other Kohanim are only now being initiated, anointed? So this will be a one-off, and then authority (smichah) is transferred.
8:20 VE ET HA AYIL NITACH LINTACHAV VA YAKTER MOSHEH ET HA ROSH VE ET HA NETACHIM VE ET HA PADER
KJ: And he cut the ram
into pieces; and Moses burnt the head, and the pieces, and the fat.
BN: And when the ram was cut into its pieces, Mosheh burned the head, and the pieces, and the fat.
PADER: rather than CHELEV. but also meaning fat. What is the difference? The truth is, we don't know. PADER only appears in Leviticus (1:8, 8:20); the root, PADAR, may actually be the source of the Latin "fodrum", which is the source of the word "food".
8:21 VE ET HA KEREV VE ET HA KERA'AYIM RACHATS BA MAYIM VA YAKTER MOSHEH ET KOL HA AYIL HA MIZBECHAH OLAH HU LE REYACH NIYCHO'ACH ISHEH HU LA YHVH KA ASHER TSIVAH YHVH ET MOSHEH
KJ: And he washed the
inwards and the legs in water; and Moses burnt the whole ram upon the altar: it was a burnt
sacrifice for a sweet savour, and an
offering made by fire unto the LORD; as the LORD commanded Moses.
BN: And when the innards and the legs were washed with water, Mosheh made the whole ram smoke on the altar; it was a burnt-offering to provide a sweet savour; it was a burnt offering for YHVH, as YHVH had instructed Mosheh.
8:22 VA YAKREV ET HA AYIL HA SHENI EYL HA MILU'IM VA YISMECHU AHARON U VANAV ET YEDEYHEM AL ROSH HA AYIL
KJ: And he slew it; and Moses took
of the blood of it, and put it upon the
tip of Aaron's right ear, and upon the thumb of his right hand, and upon the
great toe of his right foot.
BN: And when it was slaughtered, Mosheh took some of its blood, and put it on the tip of Aharon's right ear, and on the thumb of his right hand, and on the big toe of his right foot.
The most shamanistic of all the rituals described in these pages. There is a sense that these are the body's tsitsit, the human equivalent of feathers, the bits that are not quite fully attached, and the very fringes of those parts too. We might wonder that the nose wasn't also included; and of course, the other obvious part of the male anatomy has already been dealt with, through the act of circumcision.
8:24 VA YAKREV ET BENEY AHARON VA YITEN MOSHEH MIN HA DAM AL TENUCH AZNAM HA YEMINIT VE AL BOHEN YADAM HA YEMINIT VE AL BOHEN RAGLAM HA YEMINIT VA YIZROK MOSHEH ET HA DAM AL HA MIZBE'ACH SAVIV
KJ: And he brought Aaron's
sons, and Moses put of the blood upon the tip of their right ear, and upon the
thumbs of their right hands, and upon the great toes of their right feet: and
Moses sprinkled the blood upon the altar round about.
BN: And Aharon's sons were brought, and Mosheh put some of the blood on the tip of their right ear, and on the thumb of their right hand, and on the big toe of their right foot; and Mosheh dashed the blood all around the altar.
The emphasis on the right, the YAMIN, just as Jesus will sit on the right hand side of God when he ascends - the earth on the sun's right, and the moon on its left, just as in all the trimurtic religions. Obviously connected with the tribe that became Yehudah's "right-hand-man" after the other ten were lost: Bin-Yamin.
This time the King James translator gives "dashed" for YIZROK. Its third alternative.
8:25 VA YIKACH ET HA CHELEV VE ET HA ALYAH VE ET KOL HA CHELEV ASHER AL HA KEREV VE ET YOTERET HA KAVED VE ET SHETEY HA KELAYOT VE ET CHELB'HEN VE ET SHOK HA YAMIN
KJ: And he put all upon
Aaron's hands, and upon his sons' hands, and waved them for a wave
offering before the LORD.
BN: And he placed all of it in the hands of Aharon and his sons, and they waved them as a wave-offering before YHVH.
We have to understand "wave-offering" quite literally: a group of people, holding objects in their hands, waving them at the skies, as if to say: "Look, god, we have them, here they are." One of, shall we say, the sillier rituals of religion. The practice remains in place today with the lulav of Sukot, though it is done rather more formally than this, with six prescribed directions for pointing (click here for a video demonstration.
8:28 VA YIKACH MOSHEH OTAM ME AL KAPEYHEM VA YAKTER HA MIZBECHAH AL HA OLAH MILU’IM HEM LE REYACH NIYCHO'ACH ISHEH HU LA YHVH
KJ: And Moses took the
breast, and waved it for a wave
offering before the LORD: for of the ram
of consecration it was Moses' part; as the LORD commanded Moses.
BN: Then Mosheh took the breast, and waved it as a wave-offering before YHVH - this was Mosheh's portion of the ram of consecration - as YHVH had instructed Mosheh.
Like the Kohanim in previous instructions, Mosheh is "paid for his services" by getting the best portion of meat for his supper.
8:30 VA YIKACH MOSHEH MI SHEMEN HA MISHCHAH U MIN HA DAM ASHER AL HA MIZBE'ACH VA YAZ AL AHARON AL BEGADAV VE AL BANAV VE AL BIGDEY VANAV ITO VA YEKADESH ET AHARON ET BEGADAV VE ET BANAV VE ET BIGDEY VANAV ITO
KJ: And Moses took of the
anointing oil, and of the blood which wasupon
the altar, and sprinkled it upon Aaron, and upon his
garments, and upon his sons, and upon his sons' garments with him; and
sanctified Aaron, and his
garments, and his sons, and his sons' garments with him.
BN: And Mosheh took some of the anointing oil, and some of the blood that was on the altar, and he sprinkled it on Aharon, and on his garments, and on his sons, and on the garments of his sons who were with him, and he set Aharon apart as holy, and his garments, and his sons, and the garments of his sons who were with him. 8:31 VA YOMER MOSHEH EL AHARON VE EL BANAV BASHLU ET HA BASAR PETACH OHEL MO’ED VE SHAM TO'CHLU OTO VE ET HA LECHEM ASHER BE SAL HA MILU'IM KA ASHER TSIVEYTI LEMOR AHARON U VANAV YOCHLUHU
KJ: And Moses said unto
Aaron and to his sons, Boil the flesh at the
door of the tabernacle of the congregation: and there eat it with the bread
that is in the
basket of consecrations, as I commanded, saying, Aaron and his sons shall eat
BN: Then Mosheh said to Aharon and his sons: "Boil the flesh at the door of the tent of meeting, and eat it there with the bread that is in the basket of consecration, as I instructed, saying: Aharon and his sons shall eat it.
As Mosheh instructed? Or as YHVH instructed? He's doing it again!
8:32 VE HA NOTAR BA BASAR U VA LECHEM BA ESH TISREPHU
KJ: And ye shall not go
out of the door of the tabernacle of the congregation in seven days,
until the days of your consecration be at an end: for seven days shall he
BN: And you shall not go out through the flap that opens the tent of meeting for seven days, until the days of your consecration are fulfilled; for he shall set you apart as holy for seven days.
PETACH: I am amused by the King James translation of this as "door"; this is a tent, and a PETACH is an "opening"; a door would be DELET (דלת). My own translation is slightly long-winded, but there is no English equivalent besides this. Yet another instance of the number seven.
The seven days are clear, but what does YEDCHEM mean? I don't like the word "he" in the translation - CHEM as an ending is always plural; and the ET infers a noun, YED presumably being a variant form of YAD. It isn't the consecration, because MILU'EYCHEM has already given us that.
TETS'U... YEDCHEM: Where does this "you" suddenly appear from? Is this still the deity giving instruction to Mosheh? Poor editing again, no question!
8:34 KA ASHER ASAH BA YOM HA ZEH TSIVAH YHVH LA'ASOT LECHAPER ALEYCHEM
KJ: As he hath done this
day, so the LORD
hath commanded to do, to make an atonement for you.
BN: What has been done this day is as YHVH instructed to be done, to make atonement for you.
Being grammatically imprecise in the original Yehudit does not assist the translator. LECHAPER: Not "atonement" in the expiatory sense of Yom Kippur, but the purification that comes with ritual washing, sacrifice, blessing - purgation might be a better term.
8:35 U PETACH OHEL MO'ED TESHVU YOMAM VA LAILAH SHIV'AT YAMIM U SHEMARTEM ET MISHMERET YHVH VE LO TAMUTU KI CHEN TSUVEYTI
KJ: Therefore shall ye
abide at the door of
the tabernacle of the congregation day and night seven days, and keep the
charge of the LORD, that ye die not: for so I am commanded.
BN: So you shall sit by the entrance to the tent of meeting, day and night for seven days, and fulfill your obligations to YHVH, so that you do not die; for so I am instructed.
Translators struggle to find an English equivalent for this; "keep the charge of the LORD" tends to be the preferred, though it doesn't really mean anything; and anyway,MISHMERET isn't really charge; it's the practice of watching the movements of the stars and planets, an astronomical activity not easily distinguishable in these primitive times from the astrological; but it was this which became the principal priestly obligation later on, alongside the sacrifices. By King Solomon's time the MISHMERET, or MISHMAROT because it was always plural, was the group of trained astrologers (Magi, in Yisra-Eli terms), sent as Kohanim to serve in the Temple by tribal rota. What Mosheh is really telling Aharon and his sons here is to stand guard in the door of the tent of meeting for a full week, and watch the heavens for any further messages that might be sent, whether by odd movements of the sun by day, or more likely by the changing positions of the moon and stars by night, and oddities such as comets or supernovae.
8:36 VA YA'AS AHARON U VANAV ET KOL HA DEVARIM ASHER TSIVAH YHVH BE YAD MOSHEH