It is somewhat strange that the last episode ended with a slaughter by the Amaleki and Kena'ani, and this just carries on with the same divine promises as if nothing had taken place. And remember, though there is a chapter break in the English translations, there is no chapter break, nor even a sedra break, in the original Yehudit. 15:1 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:
Did the whole of the last chapter not happen? Did YHVH not just lose his temper, and tell them they would be consumed by carrion before anyone (save Kalev and Yehoshu'a of course) would be allowed anywhere near the land? And now here is, giving them laws for what to do when they get there. It undermines. It undermines.
15:2 DABER EL BENEY YISRA-EL VE AMARTA ALEYHEM KI TAVO'U EL ERETS MOSHVOTEYCHEM ASHER ANI NOTEN LACHEM
KJ: And will make an
offering by fire unto the LORD, a burnt offering, or a sacrifice in performing
a vow, or in a freewill offering, or in your solemn feasts, to make a sweet
savour unto the LORD, of the herd, or of the flock:
BN: And you bring a fire-offering to YHVH, a burnt-offering, or a sacrifice, in fulfilment of a vow clearly uttered, or as a freewill-offering, or in your appointed seasons, to make a sweet savour for YHVH, from the herd, or from the flock...
All these are laws that have already been given in Exodus and Leviticus.Is this simply an alternate version again? Or are the Beney Yisra-Eli holding yet another religious ceremony that repeats, as annual ceremonies do, as a tour of the shrines, which this appears to be?
15:4 VE HIKRIV HA MAKRIV KARBANO LA YHVH MINCHAH SOLET ISARON BA LUL BI REVI'IYT HA HIN SHAMEN
KJ: Then shall he that
offereth his offering unto the LORD bring a meat offering of a tenth deal of
flour mingled with the fourth part of
an hin of oil.
BN: Then shall he who brings his offering present to YHVH a meal-offering of one-tenth of an ephah of fine flour, mixed with a quarter of a hin of oil
The Bible as recipe book! Again! YHVH does rather sound like he enjoys his offerings. He is very precise about how he likes his food cooked. Just one-tenth of an ephah of flour, a quarter of a hin of oil... not too pasty, not too oily, medium rare... For more detail on the weightsand measures, click here
REVI'IYT: Spelled with an additional Yud below; why can't the Masoretic editors make up their minds and be consistent?!
15:5 VE YAYIN LA NESECH REVIY'IYT HA HIN TA'ASEH AL HA OLAH O LA ZAVACH LA KEVES HA ECHAD
KJ: Or for a ram, thou
shalt prepare for a meat
offering two tenth deals of flour mingled with the third part of an hin
BN: Or for a ram, you shall prepare for a meal-offering two tenth parts of an ephah of fine flour mingled with the third part of a hin of oil
Slightly less oil, because the ram is older meat, and therefore likely to have nore of its own fat to cook in. SHNEY ESRONIM: "Two tenth parts" appears not to be the same as "one-fifth" - see my note to Leviticus 24:5
15:7 VE YAYIN LA NESECH SHLISHIT HA HIN TAKRIV REYACH NICHO'ACH LA YHVH
KJ: And when thou
preparest a bullock for a burnt
offering, or for a
sacrifice in performing a vow, or peace offerings unto the LORD:
BN: And when you prepare a bullock for a burnt-offering, or for a sacrifice, in fulfilment of a vow clearly uttered, or for peace-offerings to YHVH...
Maybe this passage does logically follow the previous one; if it was indeed liturgical, and connected to the Selichot, then the detail of the penances is needed. And if YHVH was really that angry, and the men went up the mountain to speak to him despite Mosheh saying don't, then a good sacrifice was their best chance of getting what they wanted... only... didn't the whole fuss start over a lack of meat, and end with the slaughter of hundreds? We want meat? Who will feed us meat? And yet there seems to be plenty of meat for the sacrifices, and not just the human carcasses left behind by Amalek and Kena'an. Then it has to be liturgy.
15:9 VE HIKRIV AL BEN HA BAKAR MINCHAH SOLET SHELOSHAH ESRONIM BA LUL BA SHEMEN CHATSI HA HIN
KJ: Thus shall it be done
for one bullock, or for one ram, or for a lamb, or a kid.
BN: Thus shall it be done for each bullock, or for each ram, or for each of the he-lambs, or of the kids.
And of course it isn't really YHVH who is going to eat. Killing food for meat is anathema, because YHVH created all things, and killing is not permitted. But permission can be granted, and this is the meaning of "sacrifice" - literally, from the Latin: "to make sacred". The purpose of sacrifice then is eating, not just propitiating the god. And so it needs to be properly barbecued, with the right amount of oil, and herbs, and a good wine to accompany it. And cheesecake for dessert - if you are a Kara'ite; sadly non-Kara'ites have denied themselves the pleasures of cream after meat.
15:12 KA MISPAR ASHER TA'ASU KACHA TA'ASU LA ECHAD KE MISPARAM
KJ: All that are born of
the country shall do these things after this manner, in offering an offering
made by fire, of a sweet savour unto the LORD.
BN: Everyone who is home-born shall do these things, in this manner, when they present a fire-offering of a sweet savour to YHVH.
"Home-born" infers "native", and as such is not really an accurate translation of EZRACH, though it is the one you will find in most Bible dictionaries and translations. Today the word means "citizen"."Home-born" would exclude or exempt a member of the Beney Yisra-El who happened to be born outside the country, and would include or permit non-members of the cult who were native; neither of these appears to be the intention.
15:14 VE CHI YAGUR IT'CHEM GER O ASHER BETOCH'CHEM LE DOROTEYCHEM VE ASAH ISHEH REYACH NICHO'ACH LA YHVH KA ASHER TA'ASU KEN YA'ASEH
KJ: And if a stranger
sojourn with you, or whosoever be among
you in your generations, and will offer an offering made by fire, of a sweet
savour unto the LORD; as ye do, so he shall do.
BN: And if a stranger sojourns with you, or anyone else who may be staying with you, throughout your generations, and wishes to make a fire-offering, of a sweet savour to YHVH; as you do, so shall he do.
15:15 HA KAHAL CHUKAH ACHAT LACHEM VE LA GER HA GAR CHUKAT OLAM LE DOROTEYCHEM KACHEM KA GER YIHEYEH LIPHNEY YHVH
KJ: One ordinance shall be both for
you of the congregation, and also for the stranger that sojourneth with you, an
ordinance for ever in your generations: as ye are,
so shall the stranger be before the LORD.
BN: As for the congregation, there shall be one statute both for you, and for the stranger who sojourns with you, a statute for ever throughout your generations; as you are, so shall the stranger be before YHVH.
Two possible interpretations of this law (probably more than two, but I shall present these two): a) Previously we have applauded the equalities affirmed by this statement, but on this occasion it is not so commendable. On all previous occasions, the statement was about the legal status of slaves, employees, wives, debts, inheritances etc, and what was being ordained for all was a moral precept. Here, however, religious observance and practice is being universalised, so that a non-YHVH-worshipper who settles in the land, whether for a brief sojourn while passing through or for an extended stay as a worker or immigrant, effectively is forced to convert - precisely what will happen to the Beney Yisra-El throughout their future history in the Diaspora. b) On several previous occasions we have witnessed laws that impose obligations on non Yisra-Elim, whether they want them or not. Here we have an expression of extraordinary hospitality: those non-Yisra-Eli who wish to bring an offering to YHVH - who after all is not their god - are welcome to do so, provided that they do it in the manner laid down for all sacrificers. How do we determine which is correct? 15:16 TORAH ACHAT U MISHPAT ECHAD YIHEYEH LACHEM VE LA GER HA GAR IT'CHEM
KJ: Speak unto the
children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye come into the land whither I
BN: Speak to the Beney Yisra-El, and tell them: When you come to the land to which I am bringing you...
Wait a minute, didn't you just tell them that they couldn't go to the land, that they were being punished for their complaints by being made to die in the wilderness, save only Kalev and Yehoshu'a ? Then the passage that stated that must have been added later... as I suggested at the time.
15:19 VE HAYAH BA ACHALCHEM MI LECHEM HA ARETS TARIMU TERUMAH LA YHVH
KJ: Then it shall be,
that, when ye eat of the bread of the land, ye shall offer up an heave offering
unto the LORD.
BN: Then it shall be, that, when you eat of the bread of the land, you shall set apart a portion for a gift to YHVH.
TERUMAH: King James renders this is a gift, but that makes it sound like a way of celebrating YHVH's birthday, or the bottle of wine you bring to a dinner party. And correctly that would be a MINCHAH anyway. This is an offering.
15:20 RESHIT ARISOT'CHEM CHALAH TARIMU TERUMAH KI TERUMAT GOREN KEN TARIMU OTAH
KJ: Ye shall offer up a
cake of the first of your dough for an
heave offering: as ye do the
heave offering of the threshingfloor, so shall ye heave it.
BN: From the first of your dough you shall set apart a loaf as an offering; in the same way that you set apart a corner of the threshing-floor, so shall you set it apart.
CHALAH: yes, the plaited bread eaten by Jews on Friday night, brioche with poppy seeds. Though back then it was probably more like pita bread. This is presumably the showbread, or shewbread, of which twelve were kept permanently, covered by a blue cloth, on their own table adjacent to the altar - see Leviticus 24:5 and Numbers 4:7.
ARISOTECHEM: This is "dough", and not the "leaven" that is central to the Passover (Exodus 12:15, 13:7, Leviticus 2:11) - that is SE'OR (שְּׂאֹר). Nehemiah 10:37 (10:38 in some versions) and Ezekiel 44:30 both use it. Scholars of this particular esoterica seem to think that ARISAH was polenta derived from barley, where the leaven prohibited on Passover is leaven derived from corn; speaking entirely as an amateur in this abstruse field, I simply can't imagine my Friday night chalah as a barley cake, but so apparently it was. And anyway, all the chefs insist that Polenta is made from corn-meal - click here.
15:21 ME RESHIT ARISOTEYCHEM TITNU LA YHVH TERUMAH LE DOROTEYCHEM
KJ: Then it shall be, if ought be
committed by ignorance without the knowledge of the congregation, that all the
congregation shall offer one young bullock for a burnt offering, for a sweet
savour unto the LORD, with his meat offering, and his drink offering, according
to the manner, and one kid of the goats for a sin offering.
BN: Then it shall be, if it is done in error by the congregation, they not being aware that they have done it, that all the congregation shall offer a single young bullock as a burnt-offering, for a sweet savour to YHVH, with its meal-offering, and its drink-offering, according to the ordinance, and one billy-goat for a sin-offering.
15:25 VE CHIPER HA KOHEN AL KOL ADAT BENEY YISRA-EL VE NISLACH LAHEM KI SHEGAGAH HI VE HEM HEVIYU ET KARBANAM ISHEH LA YHVH VE CHATATAM LIPHNEY YHVH AL SHIGEGATAM
KJ: And the priest shall
make an atonement for all the congregation of the children of Israel, and it
shall be forgiven them; for it isignorance:
and they shall bring their offering, a sacrifice made by fire unto the LORD,
and their sin offering before the LORD, for their ignorance:
BN: And the priest shall make atonement for all the congregation of the Beney Yisra-El, and they shall be forgiven; for it was an error, and they have brought their offering, a fire-offering to YHVH, and their sin-offering before YHVH, for their wrong-doing.
Modern Ivrit uses SHEGIYAH (שְׁגִיאָה) for an error; how is this different from SHEGIGAH here? There is also a distinction to be drawn between this, which is an error in the sense of "made in ignorance", and SHIGAYON (שִׁגָעוֹן), with an Ayin (ע) not an Aleph (א) and therefore a completely different root, which means error in the sense of "madness".
15:26 VE NISLACH LE CHOL ADAT BENEY YISRA-EL VE LA GER HA GAR BETOCHAM KI LE CHOL HA AM BI SHEGAGAH
KJ: But the soul that
doeth ought presumptuously, whether he be born
in the land, or a stranger, the same reproacheth the LORD; and that soul shall
be cut off from among his people.
BN: But the soul who does anything wilfully and deliberately, whether he be home-born or a stranger, this person blasphemes YHVH; and his soul shall be cut off from among his people.
MEGADEPH: YAD RAHAM: "high-handedly" in many translations. Merriam-Webster defines "high-handedly" as "having or showing no regard for the rights, concerns, or feelings of others : arbitrary,overbearing". The Cambridge English Dictionary goes even further: "using power or authority more forcefully than is needed, without thinking about the feelings or wishes of other people". So I can't resist wondering if LEGADEF, which is the key verb here, is also the root of the word Gaddafi.
15:31 KI DAVAR YHVH BAZAH VE ET MITSVATO HEPHAR HIKARET TIKARET HA NEPHESH HA HI AVONAH VAH
KJ: Because he hath
despised the word of the LORD, and hath broken his commandment, that soul shall
utterly be cut off; his iniquity shall
be upon him.
BN: Because he has despised the word of YHVH, and has broken his commandment; that soul shall utterly be cut off, his iniquity shall be upon him.
Which does rather set up the cult as a totalitarian institution, and not the expression of humanitarian freedom from bondage that it likes to claim. Once again I find myself wondering whether there is not a discrepancy between the Mosaic and the Isaiac, the latter imposing his Prophetic ideas on those of his predecessor (and if not Yesha-Yahu, then the Guilds of Prophets as a whole)
15:32 VA YIHEYU VENEY YISRA-EL BA MIDBAR VA YIMTSE'U ISH MEKOSHESH EYTSIM BE YOM HA SHABAT
KJ: And they put him in
ward, because it was not declared what should be done to him.
BN: And they remanded him in custody, because it had not yet been decided what should be done to him.
MISHMAR: "ward" makes for an odd translation, as though avoiding the issue. MISHMAR means gaol, so why not say gaol? Because it is hard to imagine a gaol in the wilderness? Some closely guarded tent perhaps. We have seen this before, on several occasions; Yoseph in Genesis 39, the butler and baker in Genesis 40, and then his brothers in Genesis 43; also in Leviticus 24. But note that there appears to be a difference between a formal prison - BEIT SO'AR (בֵית הַסֹּהַר), such as Yoseph's, and this moreinformal holding-pen; though remand on each occasion is Mishmar
Is the problem what to do with him at all, or what to do with him on Shabat?
15:35 VA YOMER YHVH EL MOSHEH MOT YUMAT HA ISH RAGOM OTO BA AVANIM KOL HA EDAH MI CHUTS LA MACHANEH
KJ: And the LORD said unto
Moses, The man shall be surely put to death: all the congregation shall stone
him with stones without the camp.
BN: And YHVH said to Mosheh: The man shall surely be put to death; all the congregation shall stone him with stones outside the camp.
Justice, Mercy and Compassion, the three greatest attributes of the Judeo-Christian deity. And this for collecting sticks on shobbas!
Actually, I think there's a textual error, leading to a mistranslation. The original read:
VA YOMER YHVH EL MOSHE: TIVDOK SHE HU BE EMET HE'EVIN ET HA MITZVAH, SHE HU LO ANALPHABETI O DYSLEKTI, VE APHILU IM LO, TELAMED OTO OD PA'AM ECHAD, VE TEN LO OD HIZDAMNUT. VE IM HU BE EMET GANAV O MEGADEF, AZ, BE SEDER, TIRGOM OTO BA AVANIM KOL HA EDAH MI CHUTS LA MACHANEH... I leave you to find a translation for that in your own time. 15:36 VA YOTSI'U OTO KOL HA EDAH EL MI CHUTS LA MACHANEH VA YIRGEMU OTO BA AVANIM VA YAMOT
KJ: And all the
congregation brought him without the camp, and stoned him with stones, and he
died; as the LORD commanded Moses.
BN: And all the congregation brought him out of the camp, and stoned him with stones, and he died, as YHVH had instructed Mosheh.
Not "all" the congregation, which would have been a million plus stones; but the intention is that the whole community consented. Of greater significance, is that we now have a clearer picture of what MOT YAMUT means in practice: YHVH orders the death, Man carries it out. Even on Shabat. Apparently it's ok to stone a man to death on Shabat, but not to collect a few sticks for a fire. Or maybe, because the text doesn't specify, maybe they waited until Shabat was ended, and then they stoned him (or maybe they hired a shobbas goy and had him do it). If so, one has to admire their piety, their absence of hypocrisy (cf John 8:7 and 58).
15:37 VA YOMER YHVH EL MOSHEH LEMOR
וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוָה אֶל מֹשֶׁה לֵּאמֹר
KJ: And the LORD spake
unto Moses, saying,
BN: Then YHVH spoke to Mosheh, saying:
15:38 DABER EL BENEY YISRA-EL VE AMARTA ALEYHEM VE ASU LAHEM TSITSIT AL KANPHEY VIGDEYHEM LE DOROTAM VE NATNU AL TSITSIT HA KANAPH PETIL TECHELET
KJ: Speak unto the
children of Israel, and bid them that they make them fringes in the borders of
their garments throughout their generations, and that they put upon the fringe
of the borders a ribband of blue:
BN: Speak to the Beney Yisra-El, and tell them that, for all time, they are to sew fringes on the corners of their garments, and to set the fringe in every corner with a thread of blue.
There needs to be a better way in English of distinguishing VA YOMER from VA YEDABER; SAID versus SPOKE is simple, but too prosaic. This needs to be applied throughout the text.
Grammatically odd here too. YHVH says speak to them and tell them, but instead of reported speech we get continued narrative.
KJ: And it shall be unto
you for a fringe, that ye may look upon it, and remember all the commandments
of the LORD, and do them; and that ye seek not after your own heart and your
own eyes, after which ye use to go a whoring:
BN: And it shall serve you as a fringe, that you may look on it, and remember all of YHVH's instructions, and carry them out; so that you do not go about after your own heart and your own eyes, after which you used to go astray
Is it coincidental that this law is given, with its specific reference to remembering the laws, immediately after the stoning of a man for not remembering them?
LEVAVECHEM: no coincidence that this word is the one chosen here: a clear reminder of the third line of the SHEMA (Deuteronomy 6:5):
VE AHAVTA ET YHVH ELOHEYCHA BE CHOL LEVAVECHA BE CHOL NAPHSHECHA U VE CHOL ME'ODECHA
And you shall love YHVH your god with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.
EYNEYCHEM: Will come up again repeatedly in Yehoshu'a and especially Judges, where the people are constantly described as doing KE MOTSE CHEN BE EYNEYCHEM - as they deemed proper in their own eyes.
A huge theological debate opens on this verse, most particularly the Kara'ites, who rejected Rabbinic authority, insisting - and using the very next verses of the Shema as their justification - that every Jew needed to study the Torah for himself, and reach his own interpretation. Not surprisingly, the Kara'ites are rejected by the Rabbinic authorities and denominations. The debate is not only with the Kara'ites, however. Within mainstream Judaism it is argued that, if Humankind is forbidden to follow its heart and its eyes, the implication is that it is incapable of informed choice and has no free will, which rather renders Judaism as a theocratic despotism; and yet the whole business of Talmud, Tosephah and onwards is about the need to interpret Torah because it is unclear and needs deducing; a task that can only be undertaken by making informed choices and using, however limitedly, free will.
ZONIM: here translated as "go astray" but a ZONAH is usually regarded as a prostitute. I have discussed this previously, in relation to the concept of the KADESHA or hierodule; see the notes to Yehudah in the Tamar story in Genesis 38.
The full implications of this verse can be read in the chapter entitled 'The Grand Inquisitor', in 'The Brothers Karamazov' by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
15:40 LEMA'AN TIZKERU VA ASIYTEM ET KOL MITSVOTAI VI HEYIYTEM KEDOSHIM LE ELOHEYCHEM
KJ: That ye may remember,
and do all my commandments, and be holy unto your God.
BN: That you may remember and do all my commandments, and be holy to your god.
ELOHEYCHEM, not YHVH, in this verse, which is surprising (though the Sema also uses Eloheychem). I have not, however, translated it as "gods", even though that is what it says. The issue is grammatical rather than theological; because the monotheistic YHVH is regarded as the anthology of all the powers and forces in the cosmos, the multiple plural Elohim is used, rather than the singular EL (which would cause confusion with the chief god of the Kena'ani polytheistic pantheon) or the regular plural ELIM, which is used for idols in general. So the multiple plural becomes a form of the universal singular, and YHVH is One, as the next verse confirms.
15:41 ANI YHVH ELOHEYCHEM ASHER HOTSETI ET'CHEM ME ERETS MITSRAYIM LIHEYOT LACHEM LE ELOHIM ANI YHVH ELOHEYCHEM