Friday, December 18, 2015

Passover and the Place

Exodus 12, the installation of the command:

v3- a lamb for every household, according to their clan
v4- nearby neighbors households may join, so that an appropriate number are eating each lamb
v6- the whole assembly kills it "between the evenings"
v7,22- put the blood on the doorway wherein they will eat
v8- eat it that night, roasted in fire, with bitter herbs and unleavened
v10- burn remainder in morning
v11- eat with haste and while girded
v14,17,24,42- memorial to be kept forever
v25- shall be kept when come into the land of Canaan
v43,45- no stranger, foreigner, or hired worker
v44- circumcised servants may eat
v46- don't carry flesh out of house or break the bones
v47- all Israel shall keep
v48- stranger may join in service when circumcised

Ex 34:25- shall not be left until morning

Numbers 9, kept in wilderness:

v3- same day/timing, according to its rituals
v5- they kept it
v10-11- if unclean due to corpse, or when on a far-off journey, shall keep it the next month
v13- if one is clean and not on journey and doesn't keep it, he is cut off

Deuteronomy 16, preparing to enter the land:

v1- observe the Passover in its time
v2- sacrifice it where YHWH chooses to place/tabernacle His name
v3- no leaven with it, remember it
v4- no leaven, nothing remain until morning
v5- you cannot sacrifice Passover in one of the gates YHWH is giving you
v6- except only at place which YHWH chooses to place/tabernacle His name is where you shall sacrifice, at sundown
v7- cook and eat in place which He chooses, return to your tents in the morning

It would seem to me that Dt 16 does describe a modification of the ritual.  

First, it is specified that it is to be sacrificed where He chooses to place His name.  Very similar wordings appear elsewhere in Deuteronomy:

Dt 12:5 "But rather, unto the *the* place which YHWH your God shall choose from all your tribes to place His name there, to His dwelling you shall seek and you shall come thereward, and there you shall bring your ascent offerings, and sacrifices, and tithes..."
Dt 12:10-11 "And you cross the Jordan and you dwell in the land which YHWH your God allots you, and gives rest to you from all your enemies around, and you dwell safely, and there shall be *the* place which YHWH your God shall choose to place His name there.  To there you shall bring all that I command you, your offerings..."
Dt 14:23 "And you shall eat before YHWH your God in place which He shall choose to place His name there: the tithe of your grain..."
Dt 16:5 "But only at the place that YHWH your God shall choose to place His name there you shall sacrifice the Passover..."
Dt 16:10-11 "And you shall keep the Feast of Weeks to YHWH your God, a freewill offering you shall shall place which YHWH your God shall choose to place His name there."
Dt 26:2-4 "And you shall take from first of all fruit of the ground, which you shall bring from your land which YHWH your God is giving you, and place it in a basket, and go to place which YHWH your God shall choose to place His name there, and you come to the priest that shall be in those days...and the priest shall take the basket from your hand and shall leave it before altar of YHWH your God."

Dt 12:13-14 "Take heed that you do not bring your ascent offerings in any place which you see, but rather in place which YHWH shall choose in one of your tribes, there you shall bring your ascent offerings and there you shall do all that I command you."
Dt 12:15-16 "But in all your appetite, you shall slaughter and eat flesh as blessing of YHWH your God which He gives to you, in all your gates the unclean and the clean shall eat it, as gazelle and as deer."
Dt 12:17-18 "You may not eat in your gates tithe of grain and wine and oil and firstlings of herd and flock and any of your vows which you shall vow and freewill offerings and heave offerings of your hand, but rather before YHWH your God you shall eat it in the place which YHWH your God shall choose..."

When this idea is seemingly first presented in Dt 12, the definite article is used in regard to the place (i.e., the letter hay).  The phrases "from all your tribes" and "in one of your tribes" in addition to the initial use of a definite article would seem to support the idea of a singular place.  These commands to bring the tithe and sacrifices to "the place" or "place" are repeated throughout Deuteronomy, and the command in regard to Passover is rapidly followed by the Feast of Weeks command, which is presented similarly.  Finally, Dt 26:2-4 is rather explicit in that when one brings their firstfruits to the place that there shall be a priest and an altar there.  This place would not seem to simply be the place where the clan is hosted to eat the Passover, as it is a reoccurring idea presented throughout Deuteronomy.

Now, in regard to the application of this in captivity, it'll take more thought and analysis.

In the case of the Tabernacle, Passover would be celebrated in one specific place.

However, Ex 12, v14,17,24,42- memorial to be kept forever and in each generation. This is a clear indication to me that the Passover were to be observed at all times, regardless of the knowledge of "the place" or presence of the Tabernacle.
My opinion is that we should observe Passover as they did in Egypt. 

There is an issue of addition of the command in Dt 16.  Since it says not to do it in your gates.  

Additionally, in Numbers, it implies that being "on a journey" would prohibit one from observing it, which I might think would also be relevant to captivity.

At the same time, I do not think that "gates" restriction is violated because Exodus 12:3-4 is clear that even in Egypt they did not just eat Passover anywhere. It were houses that fit Exodus 12:3-4 and at which the lamb was kept as per Ex. 12:6. Not just any house.

I do not think that the Numbers 9 apply in this situation because the text is very specific that if you are only "on the way", and as I can deduce from the text, within a month journey from "the place". It does not apply to us as there is no place.

Also, see the wording of Exodus 12:7. It literally says "houses in which they are eating it". Plural. 

I was thinking regarding Dt 12:10-11.  I think the discussion kind of hinges upon that passage, in that I think the commands regarding the place, etc, are enforced following the taking of Canaan (which arguably never fully occurred).  However, the place does not exist, and Dt 12:11 speaks of "there will be the place".  

After having looked it over, I do think it is possible to interpret that "the place" restrictions are only for when "the place" exists (presumably the resting of the tabernacle).  One issue is that the revoking of those restrictions is never referred to, in my awareness, nor explicitly said to entirely hinge upon "the place" being established.  

However, even if it can be concluded that sacrificing is acceptable outside of "the place" in our current time, there's still the issue of the cleanness requirement.  I've walked through graveyards and have almost certainly stood over where someone was buried and have pretty certainly touched grave stones.  Now, I don't know with 100% certainty that I've been defiled by a corpse, though, but touching a grave would make it so (defining "grave" would be an issue that I’ve discussed before).  The red heifer would be required to correct that, I would think.

Regarding Dt. 12:11 (and 12:5 for that matter), check out Samaritan Pentateuch. It says there "has chosen". Its an old and well known difference between MT and SP.

At the same time, were Hebrews in Egypt clean? Did they perform any "red heifer" rituals prior to Passover? Did they celebrate the Passover in the second month? No they did not, so Torah itself provides the answer. Passover must be observed and those who have this opportunity should do it.

The issue is whether laws were progressively added by God to the Torah until a certain point, at which time it was finalized by God and closed to further addition, or whether it was a specific set of commands that always applied.  I understand that the rabbis have the perspective that all of the Torah commands always applied, and I agree with this tradition based upon my statement about Abraham, for example, where I stated that his wife (being his sister or half-sister) should not have been married to him based upon the Torah command.  However, that command was not definitively given at that time.

Numbers 15:23 refers to:
"all that the Lord has commanded you by the hand of Moses, from the day the Lord gave commandment and onward throughout your generations—"

From my understanding, this supports an opinion that the Torah was progressively issued and that the commands applied from their giving onward, rather than all of the commands being supposed as always being applied, even before they were given.  That is, if God did not give Abraham the command regarding no incest, then his marriage was no problem.  

Now, an even more solid example, at least from my understanding, would be the command regarding the blessing of the first born.  Dt 21:16 says that the true first born of a man is to receive first born status, even if he wants to give that status to the first born of a different/loved wife (when that child is not truly his first born).  He cannot give it to the first born of his loved wife unless that son is indeed the man's first born.  Of course, Genesis describes Joseph as the one who received Jacob's blessing, which would not have been allowed by the standard of the Torah command that was given later (Jacob also married two sisters simultaneously, which was later disallowed).  Now, my point is that this blessing, which later would have been contrary to the Torah, was indeed honored through the Torah, in that God allowed Joseph to effectively have two tribes: Ephraim and Manasseh.  So, from this perspective, it was not a problem that the status was bestowed upon Joseph, since that command seemingly had not been given yet.  God seemingly respects Jacob's choice, in that the land allotment, for example, which was determined by God in the Torah, allowed for Joseph to have two claims in Canaan.  From this perspective, it would make more sense for this to not be respected if it indeed was disallowed by God at that time, but instead it was honored.

How this relates to the Passover is that the commands were given before the Exodus, and Israel observed them, and then afterward cleanless/etc laws were progressively introduced.  That's how we have the issue of " the hand of Moses, from the day YHWH gave commandment and onward..." in relation to those commands about the Passover which are in Numbers and Deuteronomy.  I would think there was a chronology to the commands, and that we cannot just go back to before a command was given in our observance.  That is, if a command has been given, then we must recognize it, even if the people did not observe it before the time it was given.

At the same time, there is a "Thou shall not murder" command. It was only given on Mt. Sinai. So such interpretation would imply that before that people, and especially Hebrews, were not familiar with this commandment. So I do agree with the Jewish tradition here. In my opinion, everything in the Torah is common sense. So it does not matter if and when it was "officially given", these commandments still apply even if one might not be aware of them.

In regard to murder, I would refer to the beginning of Gen 9.  It's implicitly present there and elsewhere.  I do think there were commandments that had been given (Gen 26:5 refers to "laws") to Abraham in addition to the circumcision command.  There are also indications of clean/unclean animals for sacrifices (even though Gen 9:3 indicates that Noah was allowed to eat any animal).  It's arguable as to what these exactly were, how many, and whether they are explicitly reiterated in the text.  

I do think the text indicates that commands were issued progressively and that it was not necessarily an entirely preexistent law (of course that could get into all sorts of theosophical debate as to God's relation to time).  For example, Exodus 15:25 says that he placed for them a statute and a judgment there in regard to Marah, which would indicate to me that the command was both created and issued at that time, not before.  Num 36:5-6 also could be an example of this.

From this perspective, the fact that they observed the Passover a particular way prior to the exodus does not prohibit the modification of that ritual later in the Torah (i.e., requiring that it be observed with additional restrictions that are given in Num & Dt).  

So, the issue of cleanness from the dead.  Num 19 speaks about how the red heifer ashes are used in the water of purification, but what of someone that does not become cleansed on the 3rd and 7th days?  How would they then become clean again (assuming it is possible)?  I don't yet have any ideas that I would perceive to be consistent with the text.

If one would assume that Passover was celebrated in some way prior to exodus and then later was amended to include additional rules, you would see that repetition of Exodus is impossible (because Passover can't be celebrated). So this, in turn, proves that the Torah is not eternal and just a historical account (if at all). This is sorta my logic...and it is in line with the Jewish tradition, save some minor variations...

Torah is very clear that the events would be repeated (i.e Dt. 28:68) so there is gotta be some way to interpret all verses dealing with Passover in such a way that it could be celebrated as prescribed and on the 1st of the 1st  month (not the 2nd month).

Also, as far as I understand the text, if you fail the cleansing ritual you just repeat it again. I.e laws of Nazir (Numb. 6:9-12). 

I think it is clear from the text that indeed there were amendments to the Passover rules in both Numbers and Deuteronomy.  However, this does not necessarily preclude the events of what might be called the second exodus.

Deuteronomy 28:68 states that the people will be cursed (at least partially) in response to their disobedience, and part of that is returning to slavery, etc.  Deuteronomy 30:1-10 speaks further regarding the details of what will occur, as you know.  Dt 30:4 indicates that the people will be banished to the furthest parts of the world and then be regathered (an exodus of sorts), and that will result in their return to the land of Canaan (v5) and their return to full obedience to the Torah (v8).  This, of course, will happen because of a return to God and to the Torah (v10).

This sequence of events is not prohibited by the assumption that the Numbers and Deuteronomy passages regarding Passover are always applicable.  Consider that the people had active interaction with the Almighty, through signs and prophets (Moses and Aaron, etc), during the exodus and during the events leading up to the exodus.  If the second exodus is to resemble the first, then surely there will be figures like Moses and Aaron that will be raised up.  In that case, a way could be provided such that all the Passover commands could be satisfied together (the performance of the sacrifice, the sacrifice being performed only at the place He chooses, the purification from the dead, etc) and such that it would still resemble the first exodus.  It would still be the performance of the Passover, and it would be the fulfillment of the requirements given in Num and Dt.

The issue of sacrificing on the 14th of the 2nd month, from my perspective, would primarily just be relevant for those that had become defiled by a corpse, such that they could complete the purification before that next month.  I don't perceive it as a general alternative for people in captivity.  The people at large are to do so in the 1st month.

In regard to the performance of the ritual cleansing when it was allowed...maybe.  I'm still not completely sure what I think.  Does it mean if someone legitimately sacrificed the red heifer today (or otherwise reacquired the ash water), the priest would sprinkle the people on the third and seventh days following that acquisition? I was thinking that if someone that was already unclean by a corpse was to re-encounter a corpse, they would then be required submit to the 3rd and 7th day cleansing again at that point, and I would think this would cleanse them from both the former defilement and the recent defilement.  So, if that is the case in that situation, then it would make sense that the ritual would be enacted once the water was reacquired (i.e., 3rd and 7th day from acquisition of the water).

On the other hand, the instructions are very clear - 3rd and 7th day. If I say got defiled by the corpse on the 4th day again, I would just repeat the ritual again. The counting, imho, begins with the most recent defilement.

I did not intend to imply that one should not celebrate passover, and I do not think that it needs to be reinstated either.  The command was already given and it doesn't need to be given again.  Part of the command (at this point), however, involves cleanness from the dead and the selection of a place by the Creator (or at least the awareness of such a selection).  I'm stating that, with the involvement of prophets and/or priests, these issues can be satisfied such that the commandment can be legitimately obeyed.  It has nothing to do with suspension and reinstatement of a ritual, but the satisfying of the commands that were given later in the Torah.  

Regarding cleansing and our situation:  To my awareness, we cannot readily initiate the ritual at all right now.  If one of us became unclean by a corpse, then we cannot go on the 3rd day and initiate the ritual.  It could be thousands of days before the ash water is even available.  So, my studying was more directed toward, "what then?".  Say it's day 10,000 when the ash water is procured, do all the people go on the 3rd day after the procurement of the water of purification, even if it's really the 10,003rd day?  Just something I've been thinking about.

I've already pointed out that Passover of Exodus was celebrated in "many places" (not in "one place") and that the Hebrews were unclean. I think that a certain commandment can be extended as the text goes along. However, it is my absolute belief that no part of the Text can contradict any other part. This says to me that commandment about cleanliness from the dead and commandment about "a chosen place" is not applicable in our situation as there is no Tabernacle or any other place that can be considered "the chosen place". 

Maybe one can't slaughter the Passover if one is unclean, but you can eat it. 

RE: Water: Under normal circumstances we would count from the day of defilement. But if there is no water of it is far away, then i think we should count from the first sprinkling... So I guess the correct answer would be 1st and 4th day? It does not make sense to me to count extra three days from the day the water is available... 

Popular Posts

Blog Archive