[b-hebrew] Yom Kippur

Harold R. Holmyard III hholmyard at ont.com
Mon Aug 23 18:34:43 EDT 2004

Dear Jonathan,

>  > >  >From biblical through Second Temple through talmudic until modern
>>  >both Jews and Christians have tended to ignore, or interpret according to
>>  >their beliefs, the fact that both Amos (5:25) and Jeremiah (7:22-23)
>>  >categorically reject sacrifice as a Canaanite influence and something not
>>  >commanded by God. They both prefer observing his berit and observing the
>>  >moral code.
>  > HH: Do you really think that is what Amos and Jeremiah are doing? I
>  > am flabbergasted. The law about sacrifices came from Sinai itself.
>>  Your Tanakh turns into swiss cheese full of holes if you consider
>>  sacrifice a foreign element that is false to true worship of Yahweh.
>Yes. Jeremiah says flat outright:
>  ¤For I spake not unto your fathers, nor commanded them in the day that I
>brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning¤b¤ burnt offerings or
>sacrifices: (AV)
>For when I freed your fathers from the land of Egypt, I did not speak with
>them or command them concerning burnt offerings or sacrifice  (NJPS)
>>  HH: I think Jer 7:22-23 speaks of what had priority. What did God
>>  stress when He first brought the people out of Egypt?
>The text says "speak" (dibber) and "command" (tsiwwah) "concerning, about"
>(al). Nothing to indicate stressing one thing and not another, but only
>speking and commanding about one thing and not another.

HH: But it is easy to understand that comparative 
stress is the idea. See, for example, Jeffrey 
Niehaus, "Amos," in An Exegetical & Expository 
Commentary: The Minor Prophets, ed. Thomas Edward 
McComisky, 433. He notes that the sacrificial 
system was preplanned for a settled condition 
where agriculture and animal husbandry could be 
practiced. So it is quite possible that for much 
of the time in the wilderness Israel did not make 
such sacrifices. Clearly the animal sacrifices 
and vegetable offerings would not have been a 
priority in the wilderness where the diet was 
manna. And Jer 7:23 shows that God speaks of the 
initial agreement to the covenant:

Jer. 7:23 but I gave them this command: Obey me, 
and I will be your God and you will be my people. 
Walk in all the ways I command you, that it may 
go well with you.

HH: That is similar to the wording in Exodus 
19:5. This commitment to obedience was the issue 
that had to be settled for the covenant to exist, 
and that is what the people agreed to do (Ex 
19:8). Then came the Ten Commandments. Later 
there were words about sacrifice, but that was 
secondary to the first and central issue of 
obedience. When God brought them out of Egypt, 
that is what He concentrated on.

				Harold Holmyard

>  I don't think
>>  Amos 5:25 is denying that they brought sacrifices, but saying that
>>  while they may have done that, they also carried their idols along
>>  with them.
>Amos is asking a rhetorical question:
>  ¤Have ye offered unto me sacrifices and offerings in the wilderness forty
>years, O house of Israel?¤ (AV)
>For when I freed your fathers from the land of Egypt, I did not speak with
>them or command them concerning burnt offerings or sacrifice (NJPS)

HH: The BHS text does not have the words 
duplicated in Jer 7:23, if this is what NJPS 
really has at Amos 5:25. They're not even 
mentioned in a footnote.

>Meaning that the Israelites didn't offer sacrifices in the desert, and that
>the sacrificial cult is due to Canaanite influence.
>I don't deny the possibility that the Israelites, if they, or some of their
>ancestors, did indeed flee from Egypt, may have carried idols along with
>them. Even if one discounts the authenticity of the biblical evidence (which
>I don't), Kuntillet Ajrud is sufficient evidence that at least some of the
>Israelites had idols until well into the time of the monarchy. The evidence
>of the Elephantine texts suggests that at least some of the Jews had idols
>sown to the end of the 4th century BCE.
>But you are reading things into the text which aren't there.
>The rest of the passage deals with future time and not past time:
>¤26¤¤d¤And you shall carry off your "king"- Sikkuth¤e¤ and Kiyyun,¤e¤The
>images you have made for yourselves Of your astral deity- ¤27¤As I drive you
>into exile beyond Damascus -Said the Lord, whose name is God of Hosts.¤f¤

HH: The NIV uses the perfect tense: "You have 
lifted up the shrine of your king." Niehaus also 
uses the perfect tense: "But you have carried 
around Sakkuth your king." So does the AV, with 
the perfect tense also in v. 25. However, the 
NRSV puts verse 26 into the future tense. Niehaus 
says that the "waw" opening verse 26 calls for an 
adversative sense. He says that the tense is 
perfect, but not converted as the NRSV has. This 
is something the Israelites have done.

>Jonathan D. Safren, Editor
>Mo'ed - Annual for Jewish Studies
>Center for Jewish Culture
>Beit Berl College
>Beit Berl Post Office
>44905 Israel
>Tel. 972-9-7476396
>Fax 972-9-7475397
>e-mail: moed at beitberl.ac.il
>Website: www.beitberl.ac.il/moed

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