Dates of editing

Ian Hutchesson mc2499 at
Wed Sep 29 17:42:24 EDT 1999

Dear Steve,

I'm still trying to assimilate your post, but the ideas sound worth
pursuing. So, what you get here are ideas from the hip.

I note that your Lv23:9 seems to be 23:40 in my bibles. The Deut16:13-17
passages knows nothing about the palms, willows etc. There doesn't seem to
be a copy of Lv23:40ff in the DSS. (There doesn't seem to be any citation
of the passage in the Temple Scroll either, though there is sacrificial
material similar to that in Nm29:12-40.)

>In Leviticus 23:9 we read "And you(pl) shall take to yourselves on 
>the first day (of tabernacles], branches of palms, and boughs of 
>thick trees, and river willows and you (pl) shall rejoice before 
>YHWH your(pl) God seven days".  [..] but there is no mention of dwelling 
>in tabernacles in connection with this period or taking these four 
>items.  The single exception is at Nehemiah 8:15 "...and bring olive 
>leaves and leaves of oil tree and leaves of myrtles and leaves of 
>palms, and leaves of thick trees to make Sukkot as it is written"  

(I'm always wary of using Neh -- at least the second half -- for Josephus
doesn't know that second half at all. It would seem to me to be a possible
late Pharisaic development.)

>Now the verse cannot mean to make the buildings called Sukkot or 
>Tabernacles for then the list of materials would be absurd--why 
>these and no other?  So, the verse must mean that to make the 
>festival these materials are needed.  

The Jubilees 16:20-31 passage is interesting here, and more especially the
last two verses, which seem to be an editorial addition.

28 ...And we blessed him [Abraham] for ever, and all his seed after him
throughout all the generations of the earth, because 29 he celebrated this
festival [Sukkot] in its season, according to the testimony of the heavenly
tablets. For this reason it is ordained on the heavenly tablets concerning
Israel, that they shall celebrate the feast of tabernacles seven days with
joy, in the seventh month, acceptable before the Lord -a statute for 30
ever throughout their generations every year. And to this there is no limit
of days; for it is ordained for ever regarding Israel that they should
celebrate it and dwell in booths, and set wreaths upon 31 their heads, and
take leafy boughs, and willows from the brook. And Abraham took branches of
palm trees, and the fruit of goodly trees, and every day going round the
altar with the branches seven times [a day] in the morning, he praised and
gave thanks to his God for all things in joy.

The natural conclusion would seem to have been "for ever throughout their
generations every year", but then we get further information, going back
from the generalised information to Abraham with the palm branches. Note,
however, that there are only two types of trees indicated, palm and willow
(the mention of which is in favour of Lev against Neh), though there are
others implied with "leafy boughs".

>In that case, we have 3 of our present four materials (although 
>in strange order since present Jewish tradition identifies myrtles 
>as "boughs of thick trees").  

This would suggest to me that Neh is closer to current traditions rather
than Lev.

>But there are two species not found 
>in the verse in Leviticus and one species ("fruit of beautiful 
>tree" which is identified with the citron) which is missing.  
>Hence, our Leviticus had not been canonized as of the time that 
>Nehemiah was written.  And, since the events discussed took place 
>in ca. 400 BCE, Nehemiah could not be written until the fourth 

It's risky business using Neh as an indicator. Both Jub and Lev are more
generic than Neh and Jub supports Lev over Neh regarding willows.

(But in the back of my head I recall having seen a list of good trees in
pseudepigraphic or DSS lit. I wish I could remember where.)

>BUT, look now at II Maccabees10:3.  This describes the retaking 
>of the Temple in 167 BCE which the author argues was a sort of 

(164 BCE?)

>replacement Tabernacles.  What do the people do,? They take 
>"branches, and boughs, and palms" (Beneton's translation).  
>This description could cover Nehemiah or it could cover 
>Leviticus--with the exception of citrons. 

You'll note that Jub16:31 talks of "fruit of good trees" and Lev23:40 also
has the "fruit (which for some reason in the AV is translated as "boughs")
of goodly trees", which were probably the citrons.

And 2Macc here should read, NEB which is quite explanatory, "garlanded
wands and branches with their fruits, as well as palm-fronds"; NRSV,
"ivy-wreathed wands and beautiful branches and also fronds of palm".


>Now, Josephus 
>(Whiston text) describing the reign of Alexander Yannai 
>(104-78 BCE--see ANtiquities Book 13, Chapter 13: 5) tells 
>of how he performed the water ceremony on Sukkot in the 
>"wrong" way whereupon the people in the Temple pelted him 
>with citrons which they had because it was Sukkot.

This is a particularly strange report -- the pelting of the high priest
with fruit -- but I'm not sure of its relevance.

>Thus, it would appear that the "reception" of Leviticus as 
>we now have it into the TOrah took place between 157 and 

(Again, 164 BCE?)

>this incident.--the span of a single person's life A person 
>who as a child witnessed the Temple's retaking could have, 
>as a person of great age, been one of those throwing 
>citrons at Alexander Yannai.

Let's see if anyone else has anything to say on the subject!



More information about the b-hebrew mailing list