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Information about EPISODE 5: HOW DO I LIVE...?

Published on November 29, 2007

Author: bibleheroes

Source: slideshare.net


The Priests and the Levites, Guardians of the Covenant in the Books of Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. (Visit www.bibleheroes.net for more details.)


Previously on





YHWH: “I AM WHO AM”- eternal, always there

It was not a contest between Moses and Pharaoh; it was Pharaoh and all the gods of Egypt vs. YHWH, the only God of Israel!

YHWH as the ultimate provider, bringing LIFE where death used to reign.

Rameses Succoth Etham In front of Pi-hahiroth CROSSING THE SEA Wilderness of Shur -Mara -Elim Wilderness of Sin Rephidim Meribah and Massah Sinai

The second “Passover” - passing over the waters of imminent death to a new land and a new life.

THE LAW THE COVENANT FIDELITY meant LIFE and GROWTH- YHWH was constantly faithful; Israel was fickle and hard-hearted...

The Tabernacle was a sign of YHWH’s presence whenever the Hebrews encamped.

The Ark signified His presence whenever the people were on the move.

Symbols of YHWH’s enduring and eternal presence.

Episode 5 How do I Live ...?

The PRIESTS and the LEVITES, Guardians of the Covenant in the Books of LEVITICUS, NUMBERS and DEUTERONOMY


In Hebrew, it is called by its first word, wa-ayiqra or Vayikra ( וַיִּקְרָא , ), which means: "and He called". The Greek Septuagint uses the title Leuitikon (λευιτικόν) meaning "that which pertains to the Levites." This title was given because so much of the book deals with the ministry of the priesthood which descended from the tribe of Levi. The Latin title Liber Leviticus uses the translation from the Greek, from which the English name is derived. Note: LEVI, one of the sons of Jacob, was the ancestor of Moses and Aaron. Aaron and his sons were the first to serve as priests of Israel and other members of their tribe (Levites) served as attendants in the public worship activities of the people of God. These roles would be handed down to the succeeding generations. Name

Composition The book presents itself as a record of legislation given by God at Mt. Sinai to Moses and passed on by him to the priests concerning their particular role in the life of God’s people. Thus the book purports to come from the very days of the exodus journey. But in fact, the codification of so may laws must have taken a very long period of time. Like all books of the TORAH, this book is credited to Moses, but in truth, he was long dead by the time all the laws concerning priests and their concerns were assembled in one book. Based on J ulius Wellhausen’s documentary hypothesis in the late 19th century, biblical scholars have regarded Leviticus as being almost entirely a product of the priestly source (P), originating among the Aaronic priesthood c 550-400 BC, with some other writers inserting laws from earlier independent collections. These were further fused with the Holiness Code from the JE source which now compose the second section of the whole book.

Composition In practice the book functioned as a manual of priestly practice. The last verse of the book (27:34) gives Leviticus a historical and geographical setting at Sinai during Israel's sojourn in the wilderness. Thus as it stands the book is a continuation of the story of God's revelation to Moses. Even though Leviticus is a virtual catalog of rules and regulations it is framed as part of a Sinai narrative. The phrase "YHWH said to Moses" (34 times) contextualizes the laws as narrative events rather than list items. A close examination of the language, style, and presumed sociological setting of the laws suggests that in their present form they have come from the period of Exile or later, but the traditions behind many of the Levitical laws go back as early as the period before the Kings. Some of the laws even have similarities to early Mesopotamian legal material. Still, the widely-held opinion is that these collections were given their final shape by a priestly group during the period of the Exile in Babylon.

Summary Leviticus immediately follows Exodus in the Hebrew Bible, and continues the account of the Israelites in the Sinai wilderness. The complete Mount Sinai revelation actually begins at Exodus 19:1, runs through the entire book of Leviticus, and continues until Numbers 10:10. This collection of moral and ritual laws can be referred to as the Priestly Code. It constitutes the bulk of the Priestly source (P) of the Pentateuch. In the wilderness of Sinai the Israelites learn more about life in the covenant. The book of Leviticus continues the revelation of divine instructions for Israel's communal life and worship. Thus, most of Leviticus is devoted to ritual legislation and cultic rules.

Summary Exodus ends with the construction of the Tabernacle. Leviticus tell us about the worship which takes place within that Tabernacle. Leviticus picks up with the presence of the Lord calling out to Moses from inside the Tabernacle. Exodus ends with the glory of the Lord moving into the Tabernacle

Summary Leviticus is presented almost entirely as the speeches of Yahweh to Moses at the tent of meeting, a shrine used solely as the meeting place of Moses and God. There are a few chapters of narration but no continuous story line. After divine descriptions of the types of sacrifices (Leviticus 1-7) Moses ordained and consecrated Aaron and his sons to serve as priests (8). At the conclusion of the eight-day ceremony Aaron blessed the people and the fire of Yahweh consumed their offerings (9). WhenAaron ' s sons Nadab and Abihu burned incense with illicit fire (it is not clear what that was) they were destroyed by the fire of Yahweh (10). Then follows the laws concerning what is clean and unclean (11-15), the Day of Atonement (16), and the Holiness Code (17-26). Within the latter is found the only remaining narrative, a descriptionof a situation when someone blasphemed the name of Yahweh. At Yahweh's instructions he was taken outside the camp and stoned (24). The book concludes with a discourse on religious vows (27).

Question: Most readers think going through Leviticus is boring; after all, it deals with rules for sacrifices, worship, priests, and purity. Since most of these rules are not followed today by any religious community, Jewish or Christian, what could be less interesting or relevant? Well, maybe the text and its subject matter are not all that gripping at first, but they do convey the vision of Israel's ideal relationship with God. Leviticus deals with a fundamental human question: How can rebellious people meet God and exist in his presence? Given the highly detailed and monotonous nature of the priestly legislation, it is easy to get lost in details. An overall framework is needed to understand the meaning of the purity and holiness laws.

LEVITICUS structure: written as a large parallel outlining Israel’s path to holiness and capping it with a punch line of what God will do if the people fail to heed. Laws of the Offerings (1-7) Laws of the Priests (8-10) Laws of Purity (11-15) D a y o f A t o n e m e n t ( 1 6 ) Laws of Holiness (17-20) Laws of the Priests (21-22) Appointed times (23-25) • Penalties for Disobedience (26) • Making vows before the Lord (27)

HOLINESS in the Priestly Worldview the Holiness continuum Very Holy Holy Clean Unclean Very Unclean Places Holy of Holies Holy Place court camp outside the camp People High Priest priest Levites, clean Israelites minor impurities major impurities, the dead Ritual Sacrifice (not eaten) sacrifice (priests eat) sacrifice (non-priests eat) purification (1 day) purification (7 days) Time Day of Atonement festivals, Sabbath common days

HOLINESS in the Priestly Worldview

HOLY PLACES zones of holiness continuity of LIFE and the constant presence of GOD


HOLY PERSONS Ritual Roles of the Tribe of LEVI Levels Qualifications Functions References Levites Must be from the tribe of Levi Care for the sanctuary Numbers 1:50; 3:28,32; 8:15; 31:30, 47 Priests Must be from the house of Aaron Perform sacrifices, give instruction Numbers 18:5, 7 High Priest Must be descended from Eleazar, the son of Aaron Day of Atonement Numbers 3:32; 25:11-13; 35:25, 28

SACRIFICES see NRSV, p. 98 Offering Hebrew Item Purpose Leviticus whole burnt olah whole animal gift to God 1:3-17 grain minchah flour and oil gift to God 2:1-16 peace shelamim unblemished animal fellowship 3:1-17 purification chatta’t bull, goat, lamb, doves, pigeons purification after involuntary impurity 4:1-5:13 reparation asham ram restitution for deliberate acts 5:14-26




Its Hebrew name ( בַּמִּדְבָּר , ) Bamidbar , meaning “in the desert”, is taken from the first words of this book. In the Greek Septuagint it is called Arithmoi , or Numbers, because it contains a record of the numbering or census of the Israelites in the wilderness of Sinai and later on the plains of Moab. Name

The book purports to be an account of the various activities which occurred in the first few years after leaving Egypt, including the conquest of some territory to the east of the Jordan river. However, the final compilation of written accounts of such events occurred much later. There is a distinctively P source component in the first section of the book blended into the continuing narrative of the Exodus journey, which is typically of the J and E sources. Composition

The book of Numbers divides into three sections on the basis of content and geographical setting. Summary The first section is a continuation from the book of Leviticus of the Priestly Code. The second and third sections resume the narrative of Israel's experience in the wilderness of Sinai begun in the book of Exodus. Text Content Location 1:1-10 :10 Priestly Code Continued Mount Sinai 10: 11-22 :1 The Journey Continues Sinai to Moab 22:2-36: 13 Events in Transjordan Transjordan

The arrangement of the Israelite camp

The route of the Journey from Sinai to the Transjordan see p.166, NRSV

A close-up view: from Kadesh to the Transjordan

Rebellions and Wars

THE WILDERNESS JOURNEY - a curious duplication Egypt to Sinai Exodus Source Sinai to Canaan Numbers Source Moses and his father-in-law 18:1-27 E Moses and his father-in-law 10:29-32 J Murmuring of the people 16:1-12 P Murmuring of the people 11:1-6 E Quails and manna 16:13-35 P Quails and manna 11:4-35 E Water from the rock at Meribah 17:1-7 J & E Water from the rock at Meribah 20:2-13 E

The Bronze Serpent - healing and life-nurturing

Balaam and his donkey

the plains of Moab

JOSHUA appointed as successor to MOSES

the CITIES of REFUGE in the Transjordan see p. 169, NRSV


Hebrew name : Devarim ,( דְּבָרִים ), meaning "things " or ”words”, taken from the opening phrase of the book: Eleh ha-devarim, " These are the words that Moses spoke to all Israel beyond the Jordan." Greek (Septuagint): Deuteronomion , comes from the erroneous rendering of the Hebrew mishneh ha-torah ha-zot, "a copy of this law" (Deuteronomy 17:18). This was mistakenly translated as "a second law" in the Septuagint. Deuteronomy 17:18 states that the king was to receive a "copy of the Torah" to guide him. Deuteronomy is not a "second law" but a retelling and reapplication of the law given at Mount Sinai. The Latin deuteronomium , from which the english deuteronomy is based unfortunately propagates this error in translation. Name

Deuteronomy fits the description of the "book of the law" discovered in the temple of Jerusalem while renovations were being done there during the reign of King Josiah (640-609 BCE) The authorship of the book of Deuteronomy is a two-level issue: - the surface setting of the book (what the book portrays itself to be) the actual/compositional setting (when it was actually written). The surface setting of Deuteronomy: In the Transjordan just before the people cross the Jordan River and enter Palestine, around 1250 B.C.E. Moses addressed all the people of Israel, urging them to be faithful to the Lord. In so doing they would ensure prosperity and peace in the new land they were poised to enter. The speeches contain a reapplication of the Mosaic Torah to these people, updated for a settled-down life in the homeland Yahweh had promised them. Most of the book is made up of speeches by Moses, addressed directly to the Israelites. At the end of the book the manner of speaking changes to a narrative description of the death of Moses. The leadership role then shifts to Joshua, who becomes Moses' successor.    Composition

Deuteronomy fits the description of the "book of the law" discovered in the

temple of Jerusalem while renovations were being done there during the

reign of King Josiah (640-609 BCE)

The authorship of the book of Deuteronomy is a two-level issue:

- the surface setting of the book (what the book portrays itself to be)

the actual/compositional setting (when it was actually written).

The surface setting of Deuteronomy: In the Transjordan just before the

people cross the Jordan River and enter Palestine, around 1250 B.C.E.

Moses addressed all the people of Israel, urging them to be faithful to the

Lord. In so doing they would ensure prosperity and peace in the new land

they were poised to enter. The speeches contain a reapplication of the

Mosaic Torah to these people, updated for a settled-down life in the

homeland Yahweh had promised them. Most of the book is made up of

speeches by Moses, addressed directly to the Israelites. At the end of the

book the manner of speaking changes to a narrative description of the

death of Moses. The leadership role then shifts to Joshua, who becomes

Moses' successor.   

The compositional setting of the book : The core of Deuteronomy was written sometime during the Israelite monarchy, perhaps as early as the reign of Hezekiah (715-687 B.C.E.), or as late as the reign of Josiah (640- 609 B.C.E.).Deuteronomy in some form (probably only the inner core of laws) was the "book of the Torah" that was found in 622 B.C.E. during the religious revival of Josiah. The similarities between the Deuteronomic reform (told in 2 Kings 22-23 ) and the prescriptions of Deuteronomy are too close to be coincidental. Both involved centralizing worship in one place, celebrating Passover in a particular way, and prohibiting certain specific pagan practices. Furthermore, the phrase "book of the Torah," found in 2 Kings 22:8, is found in other places where it can only refer to Deuteronomy (for example, Deuteronomy 30:10 and Jos hua 1:8 and 8:31- 35). Thus, Deuteronomy exists in two worlds, an d both settings must be understood to fully appreciate the book. Set at the time of Moses, it was given its shape during the time of Josiah some five centuries later. While the core traditions may go back to the Moses of the exodus, the book as we have it today was shaped some 600 years later. Composition

Summary The content of Deuteronomy is presented as an anthology of speeches given by Moses to the Israelites just before they were to take possession of the Promised Land. He counseled and cajoled them, "Be faithful to YHWH and you will be blessed." More obviously than any other material in the Hebrew Bible except perhaps some of the prophets, this material is sermonic, almost preachy. Deuteronomy is permeated with phrases such as "with all your heart and soul," "in order that it may go well with you," "be thankful," and "if only you obey the voice of Yahweh your God." It contains both a call to faithfulness and to social responsibility. Deuteronomy was designed to appeal to the hearts and minds of its listeners. The bulk of the book is framed not as a narrative but as a direct address to the people. Although not noticeable in English translation (because "you" can be either singular or plural), the book vacillates, apparently indiscriminately, between address to individuals, you, and to the people as a whole, all of you. With this shotgun approach, the Deuteronomist targets each person, and--virtually at the same time--the group, suggesting that they are in this together as the one people of God. Deuteronomy as we have it is the result of a long process of development and deliberate shaping. That should be no surprise. Almost every book of the Hebrew Bible was. The editor of Deuteronomy left us some helpful clues to the shape of the book. The main textual units are easily recognizable because a formula introduces them; the words "this is" or "these are" stand as a title at the head of all but one major section.

Summary The nucleus of Deuteronomy is the set of laws in chapters 12-26 . If we visually diagram the book, we see this central set of laws surrounded by concentric sets of material (see Figure 5.4). This material reinforces those laws and gives them context. Simplifying matters somewhat, the inner circle of speeches by Moses ( 5-11 and 27-28 ) br acket the core laws ( 12-26 ), and ar e the mselves surrounded by a prologue ( 1-4 ), and an epilog ue ( 33-34 ) containing the farew ell of Moses and various appendices. The covenant renewal section ( 29-32 ) is the only section which breaks the symmetry. Diagram of Outline 1

Summary 1. Prologue ( 1-4 ) 1. Historical review ( 1-3 ) 2. Call to obedience ( 4 ) 2. Essence of Law ( 5-11 ) 1. T en commandments ( 5 ) 2. The G reat Commandment: the Shema ( 6 ) 3. Tempt a tion and life in the covenant ( 7-11 ) 3. Cor e La ws ( 12-26 ) 1. Centra lizat ion of worship ( 12 ) 2. False prophets a nd idolatry ( 13 ) 3. Food laws ( 14 ) 4. Sabbatical year an d slavery ( 15 ) 5. Festivals ( 16 ) 6. J us tice, the king ( 17 ) 7. Levite, priest, prophet ( 1 8 ) 8. Administration of justice ( 1 9 ) 9. Rules of holy war ( 20 ) 10. Mi scellaneous laws ( 21-25 ) 1 1. Ancient creed and exhortation ( 26 ) 4. Curse and Blessing ( 27-28 ) 1. The Shechem ceremony: the covenant curses ( 27 ) 2. Covenant blessings and curses ( 28 ) 5. C ovenant Renewal ( 29-32 ) 1 . Mos es's covenant exhortation ( 29-30 ) 2. Jos hua's commission and covenant ceremony ( 31 ) 3. Song of Mos es ( 32 ) 6. Epilogue ( 33- 34 ) 1. Blessing of Moses ( 33 ) 2. Death of Moses ( 34 ) Outline 1 of Deuteronomy

Summary A somewhat different way of organizing the book divides it into the major addresses of Moses. 1.First Address ( 1:1-4:43 ) 1. Introduction ( 1:1-5 ) 2. Mo ses's address ( 1:6-4:40 ) 3. Appendi x ( 4:41-43 ) 2. Second Address ( 4:44-26:19 and chapter 28 ) 1. Introdu ction ( 4:44-49 ) 2. Moses's address ( 5:1-26:19 ) 3. [Sh echem c eremony ( 27 )] 4. Blessings an d curses ( 28 ) 3. Third Address ( 29-30 ) 1 . Introduction ( 29:1 ) 2. Moses's a ddress ( 29:2-30:20 ) 4. Conc luding Events 1. Joshua' s co mmission and covenant cerem ony ( 31 ) 2. Song of Moses ( 32 ) 3. Blessing of Moses ( 33 ) 4. Death of Moses ( 34 ) Outline 2 of Deuteronomy

Themes The Deuteronomist affirms a "practical" monotheism. "YHWH is our Elohim, only YHWH." He was not concerned with abstract theological formulations. He stated that there was only one God who was interested in Israel. God demonstrated that by his care in the past. He demands their undivided loyalty in the present. He is the one and only God for their future. The people were bound to Yahweh by means of a legal contract, called the covenant. It defined the shape of their loyalty and specified how they would remain in God's good graces. One God.

Themes Deuteronomy is addressed to the people of God as a whole. No distinction is made between Southern and Northern Kingdoms. There are no tribal distinctions. This presumes the people of God are unified. This is affirmed in the covenant formula, "Yahweh is the God of Israel, and Israel is the people of God." The oneness of the people transcends generations. The book is addressed perpetually to the "now" generation. References to today and this day abound. The covenant is made "not with our fathers but with us alive today." The unity of the people is not based on genetic commonality but on the belief that God called them to be his people. They alone are the people of God, set apart from the rest of the nations and held together because Yahweh, in love, chose them. Sometimes called the "election" of Israel, this notion affirms that these people were singled out by God at his own initiative. That is what makes them special--Yahweh's "treasured possession" in Deuteronomy's language. One People

Themes Israel had gotten into trouble because it had lost spiritual focus. Local variations in religious practices and the tendency to drift in the direction of Baalism resulted in unorthodox worship. The Deuteronomist demanded uniformity in worship. This could only be enforced if one central sanctuary was officially designated. "The place Yahweh will choose" became the only worship center. Although left unspecified in the text, the Deuteronomist no doubt had Jerusalem in mind. One Faith

Moses Legislator Themes Themes Leader

Prophet A last look at the Promised Land


Points for reflection For the ancient Israelites, holiness meant wholeness, completeness, perfection. The normaly of their lives depended on how close they achieved holiness in relation to God who is all-holy and perfect. What measure do we use for your own holiness? The Israelite’s notion of sacred time made them see God’s hand in every occasion, but required them to set aside specific times for acts of prayer and worship. This same disposition is paralleled in our Catholic liturgy and prayer. Is this true in your life as well? God used the covenant, a notion coming out of the realm of politics and international relations, to define his relationship with Israel. The premium for such a relationship is fidelity. What inspiration do you get from the way Israel responded to God’s covenant in your own “covenant” relationships?

Homework Take time to learn more about holy places, holy people, rituals, and sacred time in the Catholic Church. Take note of similarities in the Jewish and Catholic liturgies. Suggestion: ADVENT One more look at God’s choices: Moses, Aaron, the priests, the Levites, Joshua, the leaders of the 12 tribes of Israel, or the 12 spies sent to scout the land of Canaan. Pick one trait in any of them tat is very similar to yours. Write about how God can make use of it for your service to others. READ: Any chapter or chapters from any of the Torah books that you have not paid much attention to. Write or blog about it, or discuss it with one of your classmates.


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