JEDP (Mo & Deut)

Jonathan Bailey jonathan.bailey at
Sat Dec 18 14:16:29 EST 1999

Well, somebody had to bring Deuteronomy sooner of later. Anyway, are you just trying 
to expand our discussion about sources in Genesis to Torah as a whole, or are you 
trying to steer us to a new conversation about whether Moses wrote the Torah? 
Anyway, in my statements about Genesis, I was really just speaking about the final 
redacteur, though making no secret of my beliefs. I was, however saying "Moses (or 
whoever)" as a general term for the final author/redacteur of Genesis. I did not mean 
to make my personal beliefs about Moses a central point in the conversation, but 
rather was pointing to a single author/redacteur. But sometimes I just got lazy and 
wrote "Moses".

Anyway, about Deuteronomy, I know that book is a headache for fundamentalists, and 
do intend to concern myself with the issue at some point, but I have to say again that 
I am still working on my MA  and am quite busy aquiring skills of the trade and 
familiarizing myself with literature, etc. Get back to me in about 6 months, that is, if I 
can steal myself away from my Syriac class and Peshitta studies next semester. 
Right now, the only thing I have time for outside of my studies is Genesis.

At any rate, though I have my beliefs, I am not really prepared to defend Mosaic 
authorship of ANY book at this point. I am more concerned with whether not they have 
been redacted and edited, how this was done, etc.

Jonathan Bailey
Hochschule für Jüdische Studien

---------- Original Message ----------

>I don't want to defend the documentary hypothesis, though I should say it
>has proven remarkably useful for two reasons: 1) it has led away from
>fundamentalist, literal contortions in interpretation, and 2) it has given
>the fundamentalist literalist something to rail against for decades.

>Someone proposed the possibility that Moses was the compiler of the various
>odds and ends that have been welded into the series of books we call the
>Pentateuch, but let me just take the opportunity to remind those concerned
>that Deuteronomy, the one that I've spent a bit more time with recently,
>recounts the death of Moses, which indicates that at least that was not
>written or edited or redacted or anythinged by Moses -- and any talk about
>that this was an epilogue is only an ad hoc means of dealing with the fact
>that Moses didn't write part of the text (and naturally if not this then
>what else?). Consider also the so-called farewell speech he recites, 33:3
>has Moses say, "Moses charged us with the law..." If Moses is speaking
>about himself in the third person, who is the "us"? I would think it is
>inevitable to conclude that at least this verse also was not written by the
>person who hagiographers claim wrote the work.

>The same book is very fond of a few expressions, "the place where the Lord
>God will set his name" (and variations) and "the land which the Lord God is
>giving them". These seem to be transparent means of dealing with the temple
>and the land currently occupied as seen in a text written to be before the
>time they arrived there. Hey, it just is possible to all those people who
>will never accept the notion of vaticinio ex eventu that these periphases
>were part of real visions of the future, and that all the laws promolgated
>only for living in the promised land were for later applications. Even the
>provisions made for the resident foreigner [ger] in the laws could also
>have been that way. Let's write laws or give laws that have no relevance
>until you get in the land and get foreigners settling in your territories.
>(Surely 1:16 is about courts already in operation?)

>Let's also consider, while we're here, the agricultural feast days, both
>shevuot and sukkot are agriculturally based feast days, ie you need to be
>practising a system of agriculture to provide what is necessary for them.
>This means that you need to be settled in a locality and practising farming
>(and cattle raising to furnish an essential part of the system of
>sacrifices). Prior to such a situation, feasts like these (with their
>accompanying sacrifices) would have been meaningless.

>If we still haven't got the idea that Deuteronomy was written in Palestine,
>what about 4:38 God brought you (the Israelites) out of Egypt, "driving out
>before nations greater and mightier than yourselves, to bring you in,
>giving you their land for a possession, as it still is today." Where are
>they? Similar logic is found in 2:12 in which the Israelites had driven out
>the original inhabitants of "the land which the Lord gave them as a

>If we're still not convinced that Deuteronomy cannot be the work of a
>Moses, just look at 1:5, "Beyond the Jordan in the land of Moab, Moses...".
>What is the point of view of the writer of this verse?

>It should be clear that Deuteronomy is a work that was written in
>Palestine. Yet, Deuteronomy is generally older than the other pentateuchal
>books, which have gained a lot more baggage since the writing of the main
>part of Deuteronomy. Consider the holy days, where is the day of atonement
>in Deuteronomy? Not considered important enough to include? the writer
>forgot? he was in some different religious current? (Perhaps he too was an
>Essene.) What about the position of the Levites in Deuteronomy, in which
>they are considered at a level with the priests in Jerusalem, unlike later
>times? Where is all the Aaronid propaganda in Deuteronomy which is spread
>through Exodus, Numbers and Leviticus? It would seem that the greater part
>of Deuteronomy was written prior to the Aaronid ascendency found in the
>other pentateuchal books.

>Some other parts of Deuteronomy were written later. If we are to believe
>that there was a social crisis in the second temple period which was
>characterised by the selling of Hebrew people as slaves -- the area around
>Jerusalem didn't offer much in the way of raw materials, so we find the
>greatest export from the zone was human, soldiers and slaves. Numerous
>passages complain about the sale of people for slavery (including
>Zech11:4-12). This is where the Phoenicians and the Greeks come in as
>traders who were responsible for taking away Hebrews and spreading them
>through the Mediterranean, including to Greece and Egypt. We find in
>Deuteronomy 24:7, "If someone is caught kidnapping another Israelite,
>enslaving or selling the Israelite then that kidnapper shall die." Again,
>let us consider 28:68, a warning for against disobedience which entails the
>threat, "The Lord will bring you back in ships to Egypt, by a route that I
>promised you would never see again; and there you shall offer yourselves
>for sale to your enemies as male and female slaves, but there will be no
>buyer." I'm sure someone out there in TV land can find another context in
>which this verse might have sense.



>You are currently subscribed to b-hebrew as: jonathan.bailey at
>To unsubscribe, forward this message to 
>To subscribe, send an email to join-b-hebrew at

More information about the b-hebrew mailing list