[b-hebrew] Author of the Torah

Heard, Christopher Christopher.Heard at pepperdine.edu
Sat Jul 30 15:39:24 EDT 2005


[On Jul 30, 2005, at 8:16 AM, Read, James C wrote:]
> Am I to understand the continued silence after my long list
> text comparisons that you have finally accepted that the
> authorship of the torah is more heavily attested to Moshe'
> than you previously believed?
>
> Or are you still dilligently studying the references?
[/James]

Your message re Daniel, Ezra, and Nehemiah is time-stamped 10:14 PM  
PDT on 7/29/05. Your message re Chronicles is time-stamped 11:09 PM  
PDT on 7/29/05. The message above is time-stamped 8:16 AM PDT on  
7/30/05. You should understand from my "continued silence" from 10:15  
PM to 8:15 AM that I was ASLEEP.

Also, as a simple matter of time management, I _must_ pull back from  
this thread a bit and devote some of my waking hours to my actual  
paying job. :-)

However, since you are pressing for a reply, I will reply. I will do  
so in the body of this e-mail, bringing both of your earlier posts  
(from last night) into this one.

And I must issue a _caveat lector_: This post is looooong.

Before I make any comments on the specific texts cited, I would like  
to do a bit of review and set some parameters for what I'm going to  
say below. As I recall--and so much has flown back and forth that I  
may not recall correctly--I got into this conversation around  
lunchtime (PDT) yesterday (7/29/05) by making the following claims,  
which I thought should have been noncontroversial (I am going to  
label various claims with alphanumeric codes for easier reference  
later on):

CH1. No text within the canonical Torah claims that Moses wrote the  
complete, canonical Torah.
CH1a. Exodus 24:4 claims that Moses wrote down the Book of the Covenant.
CH1b. Exodus 34:27-28 claims that Moses wrote down the Ritual Decalogue.
CH1c. Numbers 33:2 claims that Moses wrote down the Israelites'  
wilderness itinerary from Egypt to Mt. Hor.
CH1d. Deut 31:9, 24 claim that Moses wrote down the laws presented in  
the book of Deuteronomy.
CH1e. Deut 31:22 claims that Moses wrote down the "Song of Moses"  
presented in that chapter.
CH1f. Exodus 17:14 implies that Moses wrote down a one-line  
pronouncement against Amalek.

CH2. The phrase "the [book of the] law of Moses" does not necessarily  
refer to the same "book" or "law" every time it is used in the Tanakh.
CH2a. The phrase "the [book of the] law of Moses" does not  
necessarily refer to the canonical Pentateuch.
CH2b. The referent of the phrase "the [book of the] law of Moses"  
must be demonstrated exegetically for each case; it cannot be simply  
_assumed_ that the writer means the same thing the reader would mean  
when using that phrase.

To this I would like to add something that has been in my mind but  
which I don't think I've written explicitly on the thread, which is:
CH2c. The phrase "the law of Moses" need not refer to a _written_  
text at all. (That is,
particular instances of the phrase might refer to "legal" traditions  
handed down orally.)

As I look back upon this thread, it seems to me that proposition CH2  
may be getting lost in the shuffle. James Read, your latest two posts  
(one on Chronicles, one on Daniel and Ezra-Nehemiah) seems to me to  
miss the point of CH2 entirely. You continue to write as if every  
biblical writer who referred to "torah" meant the same thing by that  
word as _you_ mean by "Torah," that is, the present canonical Torah.  
I don't want to insult you, but that is simply sloppy reading,  
retrojecting a later usage of a term into earlier usages of that  
term. It's precisely akin to assuming that "don we now our gay  
apparel" in the Christmas song "Deck the Halls" means "we are now  
going to dress in the fashion of homosexuals"--which of course is  
absurd. When biblical writer W uses the phrase "the [book of the] law  
of Moses," we must _ask_--we are _not_ entitled to _assume_--what  
that "book" looked like, what it contained, and what resemblance that  
"book" or "law" might have to our canonical Torah.

Let's start with the Chronicler. Nobody able to read words off the  
page doubts that the Chronicler knew a written work under the title  
"the Torah of Moses." But are we exegetically justified in thinking  
that the Chronicler's "Torah of Moses" was identical to the canonical  
Pentateuch, or contained all parts of the current canonical  
Pentateuch? Let's see whether your citations give us any guidance  
here. For ease of reference later on, I shall label each of these as  
CP1, CP2, etc., for "Chronistic Parallel."

CP 1: 2Chron23:18 with Exo29:38, Num28:2
2 Chron 23:18 reads, "Jehoiada assigned the care of the house of YHWH  
to the levitical priests whom David had organized to be in charge of  
the house of YHWH, to offer burnt offerings to YHWH, as it is written  
in the law of Moses, with rejoicing and with singing, according to  
the order of David." (Clearly, the Chronicler regards "the law of  
Moses" as a written text, so proposition CH2c may be set aside for  
now.) What exactly is the Chronicler saying was "written in the law  
of Moses"? Not the organization of the Levites into their duty  
rosters--that was David's idea and Jehoiada's implementation,  
according to this verse. Not the rejoicing and singing--that was  
David's order, according to this verse. We are left with the offering  
of burnt offerings. You suggest that we should compare this to Exod  
29:38 and Num 28:2. Those verses read, "Now this is what you shall  
offer on the altar: two lambs a year old regularly each day," and  
"Command the Israelites and say to them: My offering, the food for my  
offerings by fire, my pleasing odor, you shall take care to offer to  
me at its appointed time" (the rest of the paragraph goes on to  
detail the sacrifice, including two year-old lambs). Now perhaps I am  
missing some important and subtle nuance here, but as far as I can  
tell, neither Exod 29:38 nor Num 28:2 has any direct relationship to  
2 Chron 23:18. All we learn about the contents of "the law of Moses"  
from 2 Chron 23:18 is that it states that burnt offerings--עלות  
[(LWT]--should be offered to YHWH. 2 Chron 23:18 says nothing about  
using two year-old lambs for this offering (as do Exod 29:38 and Num  
28:2ff.); in fact, while 2 Chronicles mentions sacrificial lambs  
about a dozen times, none of those instances refer to a daily  
offering of two lambs. Now the offering of the two lambs is called an  
עלה [(LH] in Num 28:3 and in Exod 29:42, so we do have that much of  
a verbal echo. But the mere common occurrence of the word עלה [(LH]  
is not enough to establish that the Chronicler had those specific  
passages in mind when writing 2 Chron 23:18, or even that those  
specific passages were in the Chronicler's "law of Moses." The word  
עלה [(LH] "burnt offering" appears in some 140 verses of the  
canonical Torah (as we now count the verses). 2 Chronicles 23:18  
shows that the Chronicler's "law of Moses" included, at a minimum, a  
command to offer עלות [(LWT] to YHWH. That is all. 2 Chronicles  
23:18 does not, and cannot, show that _any particular verse_ of our  
canonical Pentateuch was in the Chronicler's "law of Moses," nor the  
extent of the Chronicler's "law of Moses." It would be  
methodologically improper to argue that because the Chronicler does  
not mention the two lambs, the Chronicler's "law of Moses" did not  
contain the verses cited from Exod 29 and Num 28. On the other hand,  
the lack of a mention of the two lambs does make it impossible to  
show that those verses were in the Chronicler's mind (or "law of  
Moses").

CP2: 2Chron24:6 with Exo30:12-16
"So the king summoned Jehoiada the chief, and said to him, 'Why have  
you not required the Levites to bring in from Judah and Jerusalem the  
tax levied by Moses, the servant of the LORD, on the congregation of  
Israel for the tent of the covenant?'" Exod 30:12-16 describe the  
"census tax." 2 Chron 24:6ff. show without a doubt that the  
Chronicler was aware of a tradition that Moses had laid a tax on the  
Israelites in the wilderness. But there are several things about this  
pair of texts that should make us wary of jumping to conclusions  
about the content of the Chronicler's "law of Moses." First and  
foremost, the Chronicler does not mention "the law of Moses" in 2  
Chronicles 24:4-14, the story of Joash's taxation, nowhere at all.  
The text of 2 Chron 24 gives us no warrant for assuming that Joash,  
or the Chronicler, read about the tax in a book. Just because _we_  
read about the Mosaic tax in the book of Exodus does not mean that  
the book of Exodus was _Joash's_ or _the Chronicler's_ source for  
that tradition (and the Chronicler does not say where he or Joash  
learned the tradition), much less that that book was already  
conjoined to the others to form the entire canonical Torah. Second,  
the tax levied by Joash only vaguely resembles the ransom described  
in Exod 30:12-16. Moses' ransom was 1/2 shekel per person; no mention  
is made of the value of the tax in 2 Chron 24. The method of  
collection described in 2 Chron 24:10-11 certainly implies that  
people just dropped in whatever they want, without either compulsion  
or restriction, quite unlike the Mosaic ransom. Moses' ransom was  
tied to a census in Exod 30:12-16; not only is the census  
registration absent from Joash's tax, but the method of collection--a  
simple dropbox in the temple court--is unamenable to such  
registration. And as my language should have implied by now, Exod  
30:12-16 describes the payment as a כפר [KPR], "ransom" or  
"covering," not as a משאת [M&)T], "tax" or "portion." Indeed,  
משאת [M&)T] appears in the Torah only in Gen 43:34, the story of  
Joseph giving "portions" to his brothers in Egypt (with a quintuple- 
scoop for Benjamin). If the Chronicler wanted to specifically allude  
to Exod 30:12-16 _as a text_ (rather than to a tradition, perhaps not  
textually transmitted, about a Mosaic wilderness tax), why did he use  
the word משאת [M&)T] instead of כפר [KPR]? And if the  
Chronicler knew of this tax from a text called "the law of Moses,"  
why didn't he use a phrase like "as it is written in the law of  
Moses" (as in 2 Chron 23:18, discussed above)? 2 Chron 24 gives us no  
good exegetical reason to believe that the Chronicler was thinking of  
the _text_ that we now call Exod 30:12-16 when he wrote 2 Chron 24.  
The links just aren't there.

(I have been working on this post now for some two hours. I'm going  
to have to start abbreviating my responses so that I don't spend all  
morning on this discussion. When necessary, I will comment at length,  
but I'm going to have to start using bullet-type points from here  
down if there's already a significant discussion above in the same  
vein. Please forgive the tone of abruptness that this may generate in  
what follows.)

CP3: 2Chron24:4 with Deu24:16
Assuming that the reference should be 2 Chronicles 25:4, not 24:4,  
this pair provides good evidence that the Chronicler's "book of the  
law of Moses" included at least part of the Deuteronomic code.

CP4: 2Chron30:16 with Lev1:5
I assume that it is the "dashing of the blood" that connects these  
verses. If so, then this is like CP1, in that the dashing of blood  
occurs often enough in the Torah--in Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers,  
that this occurrence tells us nothing specific about the contents of  
the Chronicler's "law of Moses" in relation to the present, canonical  
Torah. It is certainly _interesting_ that the root זרק [ZRQ] "to  
toss, sprinkle" does not occur in Deuteronomy, which definitely  
suggests that the Chronicler's "law of Moses" was not limited to the  
Deuteronomic Code.

CP5: 2Chron30:13 with Num9:10-11
This case is similar to CP2. The Chronicler does not say that the  
displacement of Pesach to the second month occurred "as it is written  
in the law of Moses." The "law of Moses" is not invoked, nor does the  
Chronicler mention the wilderness at all. The Chronicler _may_ be  
alluding to the instructions given in Num 9:9-13 about the delay of  
the Pesach for those suffering corpse uncleanness, etc. However, we  
cannot _show_ that, because the Chronicler does not invoke "the law  
of Moses." Indeed, when the Chronicler does explain the delay in 2  
Chron 30:2-4, he cites the decision of the king and the assembly,  
_not_ the "law of Moses"! And the reasons given do not correspond to  
the reasons given in Numbers 9:9-13, or do so only vaguely. According  
to the Chronicler, Hezekiah delayed the observance of Pesach (a) for  
the whole nation, because (b) there were not enough consecrated  
priests, and (c) not enough people from the outlying areas had  
assembled in Jerusalem. According to the book of Numbers, the  
observance of Pesach may be delayed one month for (a) specific  
individuals who (b) cannot partake because of corpse uncleanness or  
(c) are away from home on a journey. Except for the delaying of  
observance of Pesach by one month, the
two situations are totally different: individuals in Num vs. whole  
community in 2 Chron, corpse-unclean communicants in Num vs.  
unsanctified priests in 2 Chron, individuals away from home in Num  
vs. too many people at home in 2 Chron! Insofar as the Chronicler  
does not attribute this decision of Hezekiah's to the "law of Moses,"  
but to the king and the assembly, and given the remarkable  
differences between the situations, this passage from 2 Chron tells  
us nothing about the content of the Chronicler's "law of Moses."

CP6: 2Chron30:15 with Exo12:3
"They slaughtered the passover lamb on the fourteenth day of the  
second month" (2 Chron 3:15) vs. "Tell the whole congregation that on  
the tenth of this [first] month they are to take a lamb for each  
family, a lamb for each household" (Exod 12:3). I assume the Exodus  
reference is intended to reach through v. 6, where the lamb is  
slaughtered at twilight on 1/14. This case is similar to CP2 and CP5,  
for the Chronicler does not invoke a written "law of Moses" for the  
date. It is not unreasonable to think that the Chronicler's "law of  
Moses" had the date for Pesach written in it. However, that still  
doesn't establish much, because the 1/14 date for Pesach is given not  
only in Exodus 12, but also in Lev 23; Num 9; and Num 28. Now _if_  
the Chronicler finds the 1/14 date in his "law of Moses" (although he  
does not say that he does), this certainly suggests that the  
Chronicler's "law of Moses" was not restricted to Deuteronomy (as  
Deuteronomy does not give the 1/14 date for Pesach). But, even if we  
make that inference from what the Chronicler does not say, that would  
not tell us whether the Chronicler's "law of Moses" included the  
relevant passages Exod 12, Lev 23, Num 9, or Num 28, much less that  
it included any of those three books in the form of their present  
canonical wholes, much less that it included all three books in the  
form of their present canonical wholes.

CP7: 2Chron34:14-35:1 with Exo12:11,Lev23:5,Num9:2
I'm supposed to compare three verses plucked from three different  
books with the entire story of Josiah's reforms? See the end of my  
comments on CP6 above.

CP8: 2Chron35:6 with Exo12:42
2Chron 35:6 reads, "Slaughter the passover lamb, sanctify yourselves,  
and on behalf of your kindred make preparations, acting according to  
the word of YHWH by Moses." Exod 12:42 reads, "That was for YHWH a  
night of vigil, to bring them out of the land of Egypt. That same  
night is a vigil to be kept for YHWH by all the Israelites throughout  
their generations." Either you made a typo in your references, James,  
or I am missing the point of this comparison. I don't hear the echoes.

CP9: 2Chron35:11-12 with Lev1:5-6,3:5,9,11,14,16
Ah, now this one is fascinating. On the face of it, 2 Chronicles  
35:11-13 seems to narrate the priests (in Josiah's day) offering  
burnt offerings according to the instructions given in Leviticus  
1:1-5. The invocation of Leviticus 3 is not to the point, since  
Leviticus 3 gives the instructions for שלמים [$LMYM], "sacrifices  
of well-being," while 2 Chron 35:11-13 describes two offerings: the  
Pesach lamb and the עלה [(LH], "burnt offering," the latter of  
which pertains to Leviticus 1. 2 Chron 35:12 seems to say that the  
priests et al. were following instructions from "the book of Moses."  
But things are not so simple if we take a closer look. As we have  
seen above, Pesach regulations are given in Exod 12; Lev 23; Num 9;  
28; Deut 16. We can set aside Lev 23:5 for now, for that does little  
more than place Pesach on the calendar; so too Num 28:16. Numbers 9  
just tweaks the calendar (see CP5 above), so it too is unrevealing in  
this comparison. For the specifics of the observance we must look to  
Exod 12 and Deut 16. 2 Chron 35:13 reads, "They boiled [בשל, B$L]  
the Pesach in the fire [באש, B)$] according to the ordinance  
[משפט, M$P+], and the holy offerings they boiled [בשל, B$L] in  
pots, cauldrons, and pans, and they ran them to all the people." Now  
what "ordinance" are they following here? Not Exodus 12:9, which  
reads, "Do not eat any of it raw or boiled in water [ובשל  
מבשל במים, WB$L MB$L BMYM], but flame-roasted צלי־אש,  
CLY-)$], with its head, legs, and inner organs." Maybe Deut 16:8  
then, "You shall boil it [בשל, B$L] it and eat it at the place that  
YHWH your God will choose." But Deut 16:8 only has בשל [B$L], not  
בשל באש [B$L B)$] like 2 Chron 35:13. What gives? The Chronicler  
seems to be conflating the two passages, adding the instruction to  
בשל [B$L] the Pesach lamb from Deut 16:8 to the "in fire" באש [B) 
$] of Exod 12:9. If so, this definitely _does_ suggest that the  
Chronicler's "law of Moses"--assuming that the Chronicler is drawing  
on a written source, per 35:12--included Exodus 12 and Deuteronomy  
16, perhaps all of both books. Ironically, it _also_ calls into  
emphatic question Mosaic authorship of both Torah passages, for why  
would Moses (or God) command in Deut 16:8 what he prohibits in Exod  
12:9, namely, boiling the Pesach lamb? By the way, it may be worth  
noting that this conflation occurs in a passage that the Chronicler  
has added to his source text from the Former Prophets; 2 Kings does  
not go into these details, which may (or may not) give us a hint that  
the "book of the covenant" presupposed by the author of 2 Kings  
differed from the Chronicler's, and did not present the difficulty  
the Chronicler faced.

Summary on Chronicles: Although several of the comparisons James  
suggested are too vague to show us anything about the contents of the  
Chronicler's "law of Moses," a few of them do suggest that the  
Chronicler's "law of Moses" included at least the actual  
"instruction" parts of Exodus, Leviticus, and Deuteronomy. I think it  
is a reasonable inference to suggest that the Chronicler's "law of  
Moses" is at least somewhere on the trajectory toward the canonical  
Pentateuch. It _might_ be there already, but we cannot _show_ that it  
is. We cannot _show_ from these passages that the Chronicler's "law  
of Moses" included the narratives of Genesis, Exodus, and Numbers,  
although the Chronicler's sideways nod to the Exodus Pesach  
instructions _might_ imply that, _if_ we could show that those  
instructions were _already_ embedded within the Exodus Passover  
narrative before the Chronicler read them. While we (a) have good  
reasons from the text of Chronicles to believe that the Chronicler's  
"law of Moses" was larger than the Deuteronomic Code, and probably  
included elements that we now find in Exodus and Leviticus, we still  
(b) cannot show that the Chronicler's "law of Moses" was identical to  
our present canonical Torah, and therefore we (c) cannot infer from  
Chronicles any "authorship claim" about the present canonical form of  
the Torah, and (d) even if we could, that would not inherently  
demonstrate that the Chronicler's claim was accurate.

Whoa. I have been working on this post now for 3.5 hours, save for  
the little time I took to comment bibliographically on Psalm 22:17 on  
another post. I really can't spend the time today to go through the  
Daniel, Ezra, and Nehemiah passages in the detail used above, so I  
must simply beg forgiveness for incompleteness. Yet I'll make a  
couple of comments:

Regarding Daniel, I see nothing in Daniel's prayer of chapter 9 that  
would constitute an allusion to Leviticus 26:14-20. The prayer is  
rather Deuteronomistic in tone; the "curse and the oath written in  
the law of Moses, the servant of God" probably allude to  
Deuteronomy's curses. Note that the phrase "servant of God" is not  
characteristic of Leviticus, but does echo Deut 34:5, "Moses, the  
servant of YHWH, died ..." At most, I think we could say that Daniel  
9 implies that the author of that prayer knew a written "law of  
Moses" that resembled (parts of) Deuteronomy. We can't infer from  
that that the author of that prayer knew anything about a literary  
work resembling our canonical Torah. "He" may have, but we cannot  
show it from these references.

With regard to Ezra and Nehemiah, I already stated in another post  
that I think the evidence in those books suggests that Ezra's "book  
of the law of Moses" included at least Deuteronomy 23 and the ritual  
calendar in Leviticus 23, and it's unlikely that those little  
passages stood alone. So I think it's safe to say, as I've already  
said, that Ezra's "book of the law of Moses" was _at least_ on a  
trajectory toward our canonical Pentateuch, including at least parts  
of what we now call Deuteronomy and Leviticus. Therefore, and for the  
sake of my time management which is already in tatters this morning,  
I will skip over James's pairings of texts from Ezra-Nehemiah with  
Deuteronomy and Leviticus. Whether Ezra's "book of the Law" included  
more than (parts of) Deuteronomy and Leviticus I don't know, and  
cannot show, from the text of Ezra-Nehemiah. That leaves the  
following parallels to consider:

ENP1: Neh8:9 with Lev23:24, Num29:1
I am not sure what pairing up Neh 8:9 with Num 29:1 is supposed to  
show; I can't see anything there that would make me think the author  
of Neh 8:9 was thinking of Num 29:1 when writing that verse.

ENP2: Ezra3:2 with Exo20:24, Exo40:29
In order for Ezra 3:2 to draw my attention specifically to Exod  
20:24, I would expect to see some comment about the altar being made  
of earth, or unhewn stones, or not  having stairs, but none of that  
is in Ezra 3:2. This is a case like CP1, where there is only the  
vaguest of relationships, and quite non-unique relationships at that,  
between the two verses cited. The same goes for Exod 40:29. Perhaps I  
am again missing some subtlety in the pairings, but I don't see  
anything in Ezra 3:2 that suggests a specific allusion to either of  
the texts cited, or anything uniquely in Exodus. In other words, the  
reference to "the law of Moses" could just as easily refer to  
something in Deuteronomy or Leviticus.

ENP3: Ezra3:3-6 with Exo23:16,29:38,29:42,  
Num28:3-4,28:23,29:1,29:12-13,Lev23:24
Ditto ENP2 for the most part. However, the mention of חדשים [XD 
$YM], "new moon" festivals _might_ specifically reflect Numbers 29:6,  
a verse you (James) didn't mention but which is in the neighborhood.  
As far as I can tell on a relatively quick survey, no other Torah  
passage mentions a "new moon" sacrifice. Now of course Numbers 29:6  
doesn't give any actual instructions for that ritual, and the author  
might simply know the custom of new moon festivals from tradition  
(they are attested in 1 Sam 20; 2 Kings 4:23; Psalm 81:3; Isa 1:13;  
66:23; Ezek 46 passim; Amos 8:5) and _assume_ that they are written  
in the law just as well as he might know Num 29:6 specifically. I  
don't see any other reason than the mention of the "new moon"  
festival to think that Ezra 3:3-6 draws _specifically_ on that  
passage from Numbers, but it might.

Basically, it seems to me that the same things I said above in my  
"summary on Chronicles" apply to Ezra-Nehemiah, mutatis mutandis.  
While we (a) have good reasons from the text of Ezra-Nehemiah to  
believe that the authors' "law of Moses" was larger than the  
Deuteronomic Code, and probably included elements that we now find in  
Leviticus and _maybe_ Numbers (a very slight one-word echo), we still  
(b) cannot show that the authors' "law of Moses" was identical to our  
present canonical Torah, and therefore we (c) cannot infer from Ezra- 
Nehemiah any "authorship claim" about the present canonical form of  
the Torah, and (d) even if we could, that would not inherently  
demonstrate that the authors' claim was accurate.

Chris
--
R. Christopher Heard
Assistant Professor of Religion
Pepperdine University
Malibu, California 90263-4352
http://faculty.pepperdine.edu/cheard
http://www.iTanakh.org
http://www.semioticsandexegesis.info



More information about the b-hebrew mailing list