[b-hebrew] Leviticus 27:29 and human sacrifice ???

Harold R. Holmyard III hholmyard at ont.com
Wed Oct 19 22:57:07 EDT 2005

Dear Karl,

>I have read and heard it repeatedly that the biggest moral
>difference between Judaism and paganism is that
>Judaism forbade human sacrifice. With the unfortunate
>exception of YPTX's daughter, that characterization seems

HH: This is not something Yahweh commanded, and there is debate about 
the interpretation of the passage.

>In Leviticus 27:29 (look also at the verses around it) there
>seems to be a command that human sacrifice is to be
>The question that may clear up this understanding is the
>definition of XRM.
>I checked Reinier de Blois' online dictionary, but does it
>really fit this use?
>I suspect that the lexeme XRM may have the idea of
>marking out, as in designating animals to be sacrificed
>such that they can no longer be considered owned by the
>designator, but also marked as in blemished physically,
>such that a hereditary priest may not serve in the temple
>(Leviticus 21:18) or blemished morally such that his death
>is an execution of the guilty, not a sacrifice.

HH: Milgrom summarizes the issue as having two alternatives, either 
verses 28-29 are speaking of the identical situation, or they are 
speaking of different situations. He concludes that they speak of 
different situations for two reasons: 1) a person would not be 
treated the same way as fields and unclean animals (v. 28), and 2) if 
verse 29 expanded on verse 28, there would be connective particle 
like )K joining verse 29 to verse 28. Milgrom notes the difference 
between the active verb in v. 28 ("dedicates") and the passive one in 
v. 29 ("is dedicated"). He sees verse 28 as something the owner of a 
slave, animal, or property decides. He views the banned person in 
verse 29 as assigned that status by an outside judicial body like a 

HH: Delitzsch takes the view that a person was not free to dedicate a 
person this way unless there was some aggravated crime that deserved 
death. Otherwise it could become a roundabout way of murdering 
people. For him verse 29 seems to be a clarification of verse 28.

				Harold Holmyard

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