ISRAEL STORY 02 – Age of Moses – exodus and desert

SPRING 2015 BIBLE STUDY RESOURCES:

Albertz, Rainer.  A History of Israelite Religion in the Old Testament Period.  Volume I: From the Beginnings to the End of the Monarchy.  Translated by John Bowden in 1994.  Part of the Old Testament Library series edited by James L. Mays, Carol A. Newsom, and David L. Petersen.  (Westminster John Knox Press, Louisville, 1994).

Albertz, Rainer.  A History of Israelite Religion in the Old Testament Period.  Volume II: From the Exile to the Maccabees.  Translated by John Bowden in 1994.  Part of the Old Testament Library series edited by James L. Mays, Carol A. Newsom, and David L. Petersen.  (Westminster John Knox Press, Louisville, 1994).

Bright, John.  A History of Israel, second edition.  (Westminster Press, Philadelphia, 1972).

Cotter, David W.  Genesis.  Part of the Berit Olam: Studies in Hebrew Narrative & Poetry series, edited by David W. Cotter.  (Liturgical Press, Collegeville, 2003).

De Vaux, Roland.  The Early History of Israel.  Translated by David Smith. (Westminster Press, Philadelphia, 1978).

Gordon, Cyrus H. and Gary A. Rendsburg.  The Bible and the Ancient Near East, fourth edition.  (W. W. Norton, New York, 1997).

Hayes, John H. and J. Maxwell Miller.  Israelite and Judaean History.  Part of the Old Testament Library series edited by John H. Hayes and J. Maxwell Miller.  (Westminster Press, Philadelphia, 1977).

Mazar, Amihai.  Archaeology of the Land of the Bible : 10,000 – 586 B.C.E.  Part of the Anchor Yale Bible Reference Library edited by David Noel Freedman.  (Yale University Press, New Haven, 1990).

Myers, Eric M. and Mark A. Chancey.  Alexander to Constantine: Archaeology of the Land of the Bible.  Volume 3 of the Anchor Bible Reference Library edited  by John Collins.  (Yale University Press, New Haven, 2012)

Propp, William H. C..  Exodus 1-18: A new translation with introduction and commentary.  Volume 2 of the Anchor Yale Bible, William F. Albright and David Noel Freedman General Editiors.  (Yale University Press, New Haven, 1999).

Provan, Iain, V. Philips Long, and Tremper Longman III.  A Biblical History of Israel.  (Westminster John Knox Press, Louisville, 2003).

Sarna, Nahum M.  Genesis.  Part of The JPS Torah Commentary, edited by Nahum M. Sarna.  (The Jewish Publication Society, Philadelphia, 1989).

—————–.  Exodus.  Part of The JPS Torah Commentary, edited by Nahum M. Sarna.  (The Jewish Publication Society, Philadelphia, 1991).

Scherman, Rabbi Nosson and Meir Zlotowitz, editors.  The Mishnah: Seder Zeraim vol. IIa PEAH.   A new translation with a commentary anthologized from Talmudic, Midrashic, and rabbinic sources.  Part of the Artscroll Mishnah series.  (Mesorah Publications, New York, 1990).

Scherman, Rabbi Nosson and Meir Zlotowitz, editors.  The Mishnah: Seder Zeraim vol. 1a SEDER MOED.   A new translation with a commentary anthologized from Talmudic, Midrashic, and rabbinic sources.  Part of the Artscroll Mishnah series.  (Mesorah Publications, New York, 1982).

Silver, Daniel Jeremy.  A History of Judaism: Volume 1, From Abraham to Maimonides.  (Basic Books Inc., New York, 1974).

Stern, Ephraim.  Archaeology of the Land of the Bible.  Volume II: The Assyrian, Babylonian, and Persian Periods (732 – 332 B.C.E.).  Part of the Anchor Bible Reference Library edited  by David Noel Freedman.  (Doubleday, New York, 2001)

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Albertz p. 23ff calls the period from 1250 BCE to 1000BCE the “period before the state” and does not sharply differentiate, as most scholars do, between the time in the desert and the time of settlement.

Albertz p. 23: “The view which the monumental work, the Pentateuch (the five books of Moses), seeks to convey about the beginnings of the religion of Israel is roughly this: the religion of Israel began with a promise of the LORD to Moses to liberate Israel from forced labor in Egypt and lead them to Palestine.  It was consolidated by a revelation of the LORD on Sinai in which he gave Israel all the commandments and laws, installed the cult and concluded a covenant with Israel.  And they arrived at their destination by the LORD giving his people the promised land.”

Albertz p. 23 – this construction above is post-exilic (586BC and later).  It was a core element of the reconstruction of everything after the exile.  Much as what had to happen later after the destruction of the Temple and Jerusalem again in 70AD.

Albertz p. 42: “Now the piety of early Israelite families projected on to the patriarchs is not yet the real beginning of the history of Israelite religion.  Rather, those who handed it down are agreed that the decisive impetus which set the history of Israelite religion in motion arose from the quite specific religious experiences which Israel had in Egypt and in the desert of southern Palestine, when it was still far from the area where it later settled.  Oppressed by Egypt and conscripted for forced labor, Israel had been led out of Egypt by the LORD under the guidance of Moses, had experienced the saving power of this God over a unit of Egyptian chariots at the Sea of Reeds, and had witnessed a powerful theophany of the LORD at Sinai, which was the foundation of the special relationship between Israel and this God and which determined its cultic and ethical form for all time.”

Various traditions of the early periods have been reworked by later post-exilic theologians to produce the above.

Albertz p. 44:  the religion of the patriarchs was of the family / clan.  The religion of the Exodus was tribal and larger.  Hence it was different in structure and content – more political, more cultic.

Albertz p. 45:  most likely the Exodus group had been a diverse peoples who had been prisoners of war conscripted to build Egyptian cities (Exodus 1:11  the store cities of Pithom and Ramses).  Hence they are accurately presented in the tradition as diverse in thinking, motives, desires, and traditions.

Albertz p. 47: from beginning the Y— tradition emphasized liberation from domination – not a legitimizing of the state as in other ancient religions.

Albertz p. 48: “Whereas at the level of the religion of the smaller group the promise of a son took only a year to be fulfilled, on the level of the religion of the larger group it embraces a long-drawn out political and historical process which according to later tradition transcends even the life-span of a generation (forty years).   …   broad span of history”.   Promise (son…) is not given directly to the ancestor but to an intermediary (Moses).

Albertz p. 53: “In addition to the Exodus events the tradition mentions a second key experience which lay at the foundation of the religion of Israel: the encounter with God on Sinai.  Scholars still argue about how the two traditions are related, but the great traditional formulation of the Sinai periscope (Ex. 19 to Numbers 10) does look like an alien body within the Pentateuchal tradition of Exodus and settlement, and the events of Sinai are usually passed over in the other summaries of the early history of Israel (Deut. 26:5-10; Josh. 2.4; Judges 11:16-26 etc….)”

Albertz p. 55 It seems likely that there was some sort of theophany on a mountain / Sinai – awesomeness of the LORD in the desert period.  5 different stories related to it.  Via this experience the disparate groups unite around it, through it.  P. 56: “The theophany simply confirmed, endorsed and perpetuated what had previously already been given a basis in history.”  (exodus event)

Levites as a mobile priestly class may date back to Moses’ time – offering sacrifices at various shrines (Judges 17-18).  Option to stay in one place and found a dynasty there.

Albertz p. 60: key is the cult existed before settling the land, celebrated a tie not between the LORD and a place (Sinai) but the LORD and a people

Albertz p. 61: The giving of the 613 laws, even of just 10 commandments, has been inserted into the Sinai tradition

Albertz p. 66: the Exodus group did not go from disjointed peoples escaping from Egypt to an integrated people in the land of Palestine easily or quickly.  Hence the 40 years in the desert almost certainly reflects that reality

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JEWS, THE LAW, THE TRADITION, THE PHARISEES, JESUS, THE RABBIS

As I have noted before Jews have never experienced the Law as an impossible burden as Paul described and Christians now regard it.  On the contrary, it is seen as a great gift for the Jewish people (not intended for others).

The laws were considered equally important – God gave them all and did not tell us that this is important and that one “not so much”.  Don’t want to get to judgment only to find out that one we thought could be disregarded was in fact the very one that God considered most important.  We can’t necessarily see the scope.

613 commandments in the Torah – carefully culled from the texts whenever God directs the whole people to do this or not do that, as well the law codes.  Some are repeated, but if not exactly then may be another law.  Since all are important tradition began to “build a fence” around  them with the hope that they could prevent the people from intentional or accidental sin.  (They do not require an intent to break a law as an element of sin, hence “accidental sin” just as real as intended sins.)

Example: leave one tenth of the produce of your fields for the poor.  The early tradition (priests in the temple responding to questions from people), then the Pharisees, then the rabbis, and continues to this day first dealt with questions: what size fields are we talking about?  What if I plant it and then a storm destroys most of it?  What if the night before harvest some robbers come and steal half of it? …

With regard to minimum size of field question –  Mishnah / peah – chapter 3 verse 6 (p. 71): “R’ Eliezer says: Land with the capacity for planting a quarter-kav of seed is subject to peah.  R’ Yehoshua says: One which yields two seahs.  R’ Tarfon says: Six by six handbreaths.  R’ Yehudah says: Enough to reap a fistful and repeat.  And the law follows his words. ….”

Much of the Talmud is clarification such as this, rabbis spend a lot of time mastering it.  There is disagreement on these sorts of questions – the Talmud cites varied opinions, if subsequent tradition lifts up one answer that one is noted and given precedence, if disagreements persists then that is noted as well.

The scholars / lawyer question to Jesus makes sense here – so, who is my neighbor?  Jesus may or may not have mastered the tradition as it stood in his day, wouldn’t argue with other Pharisees using it.  Hence their frustration with him – He speaks as if he had authority!

The “fence” involved making sure that we have God’s desired intent taken care of – and then some for good measure.  This is seen most clearly in the development of all the laws of Kosher (multiple sets of plates etc.) based on “do not boil a kid in its mother’s milk” commandment.

Exodus 20:8,9: “Remember the Sabbath day to sanctify it.  Six days you are to work and accomplish all your tasks.  But the seventh day is Sabbath to HASHEM, your God; you may not do any work…”  yields 39 categories of prohibited labor (all related to the work in next chapters dealing with building the Tent of Meeting):

Sowing        plowing       reaping        gathering      threshing      winnowing

Sorting        grinding       sifting          kneading      baking/cooking

Shearing      whitening     combing      dying           spinning       mounting the warp

Setting 2 heddles             weaving       removing threads             tying

Untying        sewing         tearing         trapping       slaughtering

Skinning      tanning         tracing lines                     smoothing    cutting

Writing        erasing         building       demolishing                     extinguishing

Kindling       striking the final blow       transferring from domain to domain

“… any other activity similar either in method or function to any of these 39 activities is equally prohibited.”  P. 3 / Sabbath    (39 categories of labor)

 

 

 

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