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The Holiness Contribution to the Hexateuch in Numbers 20–36* and Deuteronomy 32

Mark A. Awabdy

Pages 247 - 258


(Arabian Peninsula)

1 The groundwork of this article was presented at the 2018 ISBL/EABS meeting in Helsinki. I am grateful to Paul Joyce and Paavo Tucker for their positive responses.

2 E. Otto, Innerbiblische Exegese im Heiligkeitsgesetz Levitikus 17–26, in: Levitikus als Buch, eds. H.-J. Fabry and H.-W. Jüngling, BBB 119, Berlin (Philo) 1999, 125–196 (180). Lev 26:3–13 illustrates this integrationism well, as Otto argues that the H redactor not only combines the Priesterschrift and D, but also refers back inner-biblically to Ezek 34:25–31. Similarly, Christophe Nihan argues, “H is unlikely to stem from the same hand as P, and is best explained as a post-P composition, which presupposes P but corrects it, in particular in order to harmonize it with the D tradition”: Christophe Nihan, The Holiness Code between D and P: Some Comments on the Function and Significance of Leviticus 17–26 in the Composition of the Torah, in: Das Deuteronomium zwischen Pentateuch und Deuteronomistischem Geschichtswerk, eds. Eckart Otto and Reinhard Achenbach, FRLANT 206, Göttingen (Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht) 2004, 103.

3 The first to highlight Lev 17–26 as a post-P, ethical supplement to PG was Karl Elliger, Leviticus, HAT 4, Tübingen (Mohr Siebeck) 1966, 14–20, esp. 16.

4 Otto, Innerbiblische Exegese, 180.

5 Nihan, Holiness Code, 118.

6 Since 2015, the works have expanded the seminal research by Israel Knohl (The Sanctuary of Silence: The Priestly Torah and the Holiness School, Minneapolis, 1995, repr., Winona Lake [Eisenbrauns] 2007): Mark A. Awabdy, The Holiness Composition of the Priestly Blessing, Bib 99 (2018): 29–49; Bill T. Arnold, The Holiness Redaction of the Primeval History, ZAW 129 (2017): 483–500; Paavo N. Tucker, The Holiness Composition in the Book of Exodus, FAT 2/98, Tübingen (Mohr Siebeck) 2017; Megan Warner, Re-Imagining Abraham: A Re-Assessment of the Influence of Deuteronomism in Genesis, OtSt/OTS 72, Leiden (Brill) 2017; Jeffrey Stackert, The Composition of Exodus 31:12–17 and 35:1–3 and the Question of Method in Identifying Priestly Strata in the Torah, in: Current Issues in Priestly and Related Literature: The Legacy of Jacob Milgrom and Beyond, eds. Roy E. Gane and Ada Taggar-Cohen, Atlanta (SBL) 2015, 175–196.

7 These two methodological constraints are rightly demanded by Nihan, Holiness Code, 81–122 (118).

8 E. Blum, Studien zur Komposition des Pentateuch, BZAW 189, Berlin (de Gruyter) 1990, 285–287.

9 Thomas C. Römer and Marc Z. Brettler, Deuteronomy 34 and the Case for a Persian Hexateuch, JBL 119 (2000): 401 –419, esp. 407–408; these authors reference the late P-D editorial combination in Lothar Perlitt, Priesterschrift im Deuteronomium? ZAW 100 (Supplement 1988): 65–88, esp. 88; also H.-C. Schmitt, Redaktion des Pentateuch im Geiste der Prophetie: Beobachtungen zur Bedeutung der “Glaubens”—Thematik innerhalb der Theologie des Pentateuch, VT 32 (1982): 170–189.

10 See, i.e., the examination of Exod 13:3-16; 32:13; 33:1b by Jan Christian Gertz, Tradition und Redaktion in der Exoduserzählung: Untersuchungen zur Enderdaktion des Pentateuch, FRLANT 186, Göttingen (Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht) 2000; idem., Beobachtungen zu Komposition und Redaktion in Exodus 32– 34, in: Gottes Volk am Sinai: Untersuchungen zu Ex 32–34 und Dtn 9–10, eds. Matthius Köckert and Erhard Blum, Gütersloh (Gütersloher Verlaghaus) 2001, 88–106.

11 See The Post-Priestly Pentateuch: New Perspectives on its Redactional Development and Theological Profiles, eds. Federico Giuntoli and Konrad Schmid, FAT 101, Tübingen (Mohr Siebeck) 2015; Reinhard Achenbach is careful to distinguish a theokratischen Bearbeitung (ThB) from PentRed and HexRed in that ThB is not an exhaustive redaction of the Torah, but a final revision mainly restricted to the book of Numbers: Die Vollendung der Tora: Studien zur Redaktionsgeschichte des Numeribuches im Kontext von Hexateuch und Pentateuch, BZAR 3, Wiesbaden (Harrassowitz), 2003, 35, 629–638.

12 Israel Knohl, Who Edited the Pentateuch? in: The Pentateuch: International Perspectives on Current Research, FAT 78, eds. Thomas B. Dozeman, Konrad Schmid, and Baruch J. Schwartz, Tübingen (Mohr Siebeck) 2011, 359–67. The editorial frameworks: in the second part of Exodus links the sanctity of the Sabbath time with the holy places, Mount Sinai and the tabernacle (Exod 24:16–18a; 31:12–17; 35:1–3; 40:34–38; Lev 1:1); surrounds the large expanse that contains the books of Genesis and Exodus (Gen 1:31–2:3; Exod 39:32–33, 42–43; 40:33); within the book of Leviticus, bridges P (1–16) and H (17–26) (Lev 16:31, 33; 26:2); frames the expanse from Exod 25–Num 36 (Exod 25:8; Num 35:34) and frames the book of Numbers (Num 5:3; 35:34); and links Numbers to Deuteronomy (Num 27:12–14; Deut 32:48–51).

13 For the argumentation that the following texts are post-P and belong to H: Gen 1:1–2:3 (Bill T. Arnold, Genesis 1 as Holiness Preamble, in: Let Us Go Up to Zion: Essays in Honour of H. G. M. Williamson on the Occasion of His Sixty-fifth Birthday, VTSupp 153, eds. Ian Provan and Mark J. Boda, Leiden [Brill] 2012, 332–44); Exod 25:8; 29:43–46; 39:32, 43; 40:33–35; Lev 16:29–34a (Tucker, Holiness Composition, 8–9, 22, 126 n. 17, 139–45, 184); on Num 5:3 as a later supplement to Lev 22:1ff. [H] (Diether Kellermann, Die Priesterschrift von Numeri 1,1 bis 10,10: literarkritisch und traditionsgeschichtlich untersucht [Berlin] Walter de Gruyter & Co., 1970, 63–64); on the association of Num 35:33-34 and Lev 18:24–28; 26:45 [H] (Achenbach, Die Vollendung, 599–600); on the association of Deut 32:48–52 and Num 27:12–14 (Achenbach, Die Vollendung, 560ff.), but I assign these texts to H (not PentR), conceding with Ludwig Schmidt that the gloss in 27:14b probably belong to the “Endredaktor”: Studien zur Priesterschrift, BZAW 214 (Berlin) Walter de Gruyter, 1993, 211–221.

14 Jacob Milgrom, Leviticus 17–22: A New translation with Introduction and Commentary, vol. 3A (New Haven) Yale University Press, 2000, 1443; also Tucker, Holiness Composition, 23.

15 Jacob Milgrom, The Case for the Pre-exilic and Exilic Provenance of the Book of Exodus, Leviticus and Numbers, in: Reading the Law: Studies in Honour of Gordon J. Wenham, LHBOTS 461, eds. J. G. McConville and Karl Möller, New York (T&T Clark) 2007, 48–56.

16 See the subsequent persuasive argument of Arnold, Holiness Preamble, 332–44.

17 Tucker, Holiness Composition; reviewed by Otto in ZAR 23 (2017): 338–340.

18 Whereas Stackert (Composition, 177) asserts that “neither P nor H should be identified as a pentateuchal redactor,” the evidence rather suggests something closer to Dany R. Nocquet's conclusion that the editors of the Holiness School had designed a history of Israel prior to the final edition of the Hexateuch and Pentateuch: La Samarie, la Diaspora et l'achèvement de la Torah, OBO 284, Fribourg – Göttingen (Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht) 2017; see review by Eckart Otto, Pentateuch und Hexateuch jenseits von Jerusalem und Juda? Die “ Endredaktion” von Pentateuch und Hexateuch in Samaria und Diaspora. Zu einem Buch von Dany R. Nocquet, ZABR 23 (2017): 303–309.

19 Reinhard Achenbach, Das Heiligkeitsgesetz und die sakralen Ordnungen des Numeribuches im Horizont der Pentateuchredaktion, in: The Books of Leviticus and Numbers, ed. Thomas Römer, BETL 215, Leuven (Peeters) 2008, 163–75.

20 Setting aside the issue of the dating of H, the present study otherwise validates Nihan's conclusion: “Namely, as one of the schools in charge for the edition and finalization of the Torah in the second half of the Persian period, the H school logically extended its redactional activity to the entire Pentateuch after composing Lev 17–26”: Nihan, Holiness Code, 118, also 116; cf. ibid., From Priestly Torah to Pentateuch: A Study in the Composition of the Book of Leviticus, FAT 25, Tübingen (Mohr Siebeck) 2007, 562–63, 616–19.

21 Römer and Brettler, Deuteronomy 34, 405–07, 416–19; Achenbach, Die Vollendung, 296–99, 566; Eckart Otto, Das Deuteronomium im Pentateuch und Hexateuch: Studien zur Literaturgeschichte von Pentateuch und Hexateuch im Lichte des Deuteronomiumrahmens, FAT 30, Tübingen (Mohr Siebeck) 2000, 7, 47, 90 (nn. 330, 335), 172 (n. 84), 216, 226, 228–33, 246, 268, 273 (n. 120).

22 Achenbach (Die Vollendung, 320–29, 636) assigns to PentR Num 20:1a*, 2–13, 22b–29 and Deut 32:48–52.

23 On assigning Exod 7:3 to H: Tucker, Holiness Composition, 76–77.

24 Attributing these texts in the Exodus narrative to P, John Van Seters notes, “The correspondence between 4:21a and 7:9; 11:10a is particularly striking: it is Moses and Aaron who perform the ‘wonder’ and not the deity directly as in J”: The Life of Moses: The Yahwist as Historian in Exodus-Numbers, Louisville (Westminster/John Knox) 1994, 68. Of these texts, Thomas King assigns Exod 11:9-11 specifically to H: The Realignment of the Priestly Literature: The Priestly Narrative in Genesis and its Relation to Priestly Legislation in the Holiness School, Eugene (Pickwick) 2009, 125-51; cf. Tucker, Holiness Composition, 110 n. 174.

25 Deut 3:24; 4:34; 5:15; 6:21; 7:8, 19; 9:26, 29; 11:2; 26:8.

26 Johnson Lim Teng Kok divides the views on the sin of Moses into five, as they focus on: (1) the speech of Moses; (2) abusing Aaron's staff; (3) shirking leadership liabilities; (4) the speech uttered while Moses is performing the water miracle; and (5) striking the rock: The Sin of Moses and the Staff of God: A Narrative Approach, SSN 35, Leiden (Brill) 2018, 106-33.

27 Christian Frevel, in a conversation (08/02/18 in Helsinki), was right to clarify that Lev 26 envisions Israel's disinheritance after having possessed the land, whereas in the case of Moses and Aaron, they experience disinheritance without having entered the land.

28 Knohl (Sanctuary, 94-96) argues that Num 20:1-13, 22-29; 27:12-23 betray H's editorial combination of JE and P traditions. In Num 20:12, for instance, one encounters the characteristic H usage of the first person pronoun (emphatic אני or enclitic ') within God's direct address to Moses and Aaron; cf. this phenomenon in four other priestly texts, all plausibly attributed to H: Lev 14:33-34; 15:31; Num 14:26-27; without an expressed pronoun: Num 16:20-21.

29 The indicators that 20:1-13* is post-P raises the question as to whether this text should more accurately be called a post-P Holiness narration; on vv. 1-13 as post-priestly, see Thomas Römer, Egypt Nostalgia in Exodus 14-Numbers 21, Torah and the Book of Numbers, eds. Christian Frevel, Thomas Pola and Aaron Schart, FAT 2/62, Tübingen (Mohr Siebeck) 2013, 79-81.

30 Similarly, Moses interjects שׁמעו־נא בני לוי “Hear now, you Levites” (Num 16:8); cf. Yhwh's order נאשׁמעו without a vocative (12:6); on the articular vocative, see Bill T. Arnold and John H. Choi, A Guide to Biblical Hebrew Syntax, Cambridge (Cambridge University Press) 2018, §2.6.2; and anarthrous vocative, see Bruce K. Waltke and M. O'Connor, An Introduction to Biblical Hebrew Syntax, Winona Lake (Eisenbrauns), 1990, §4.7d.10.

31 Lev 26:14 (ואם־לא תשׁמעו לי), 18 (ואם־עד־אלה לא תשׁמעו לי)), 21 (ולא תאבו לשׁמע לי), 27 (לא תשׁמעו לי).

32 To PentR, Achenbach (Die Vollendung, 268-70, 636) attributes Num 12:1*, 2a, 3-8, 9b, 10aα, b, 11-12; Ludwig Schmidt identifies three parts to PentR's Aaron-Miriam story, vv. 1-3, 4-9, 10-15: Das 4. Buch Mose Numeri Kapitel 10,11-36,13, ATD 7,2, Göttingen (Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht) 2004, 32-34; contra attributing vv. 2-9 to E: Josef Scharbert, Numeri, Die Neue Echter Bibel, Würzburg (Echter), 1992, 52.

33 Since August Klostermann (Das Heiligkeitsgesetz) in 1877, many have elucidated H's expansion of Holiness to the people and land, i.e.: Knohl, Sanctuary, 180-86; Jan Joosten, People and Land in the Holiness Code: An Exegetical Study of the Ideational Framework of the Law in Leviticus 17-26, VTSup 67, Leiden (Brill) 1996, 93-192; Klaus Grünwaldt, Die Theologie des Heiligkeitsgesetzes, in: Das Heiligkeitsgesetz Leviticus 17-26, BZAW 271, Berlin (Walter de Gruyter) 1999, 386-96; Milgrom, Leviticus 17-22, 1397-1400; Nihan, Priestly Torah, 395–400, 559-61.

34 Achenbach, Das Heiligkeitsgesetz, 152.

35 See, i.e. H: Lev 18-20*; 26:14-39; and also P: Lev 10:1-3, 16-18.

36 Knohl, Sanctuary, 180-86; Joosten, Holiness Code, 93-192; Grünwaldt, Das Heiligkeitsgesetz, 386-96; Milgrom, Leviticus 17-22, 1397-1400; Nihan, Priestly Torah, 395–400, 559-61; Achenbach, Das Heiligkeitsgesetz, 152-3, 156, 160, 174.

37 The weqatal ונקדשׁתי is likely consequential, “so that I may be sanctified,” supplying the logical result if the priests meet the condition of guarding Yhwh's name from profanation (see Arnold and Choi, Syntax, §3.5.2b); the Niphal could instead be a reflexive, “so that I may sanctify myself” or stative, producing Yhwh's state, “so that I may become sanctified” (Arnold and Choi, Syntax, §3.1.2c, §3.1.2d).

38 Knohl (Sanctuary, 94-96) readily admits that H is not the only literary strand in Num 20:1-13, 22-29, but integrates P and non-P layers.

39 The plural is rendered for clarity, “both of you rebelled [מריתם] against my word at the waters of Meribah,” indicating again the improbability that vv. 22b-29 belongs to PentR, who highly venerates Moses in Deut 34:10-12 (cp. Achenbach, Die Vollendung, 320-29, 636). Verses 22b - 29, traditionally attributed to Pg, may be more precisely assigned to the Holiness priestly school (with Knohl, Sanctuary, 94-6); see arguments for Pg by Christian Frevel, «Mit Blick auf das Land die Schöpfung erinnern»: Zum Ende der Priestergrunschrift, HBS 23, Freiburg im Breisgau (Herder) 2000, 241ff.; Seebass, Numeri 19,1-21,9, Teilband IV.24, BKAT 4, Neukirchen-Vluyn (Neukirchener) 2002, 299-301; Ludwig Schmidt, P in Deuteronomium 34, VT 59 (2009): 475-94, see 477-80.

40 Römer, Egypt Nostalgia, 79-81.

41 Num 20:10 (המרים “O rebels”); 20:24 (מריתם “you rebelled”); 27:14 (מריתם “you rebelled”); see Knohl, Sanctuary, 94-6.

42 Deut 1:26, 43; 9:7, 23, 24; 31:27 (Deut 21:18, 20 includes מרה in the unrelated usage of the rebellious child law).

43 The common verbal root, מרה, here connotes a “conscious disobedience of God's will or willful infraction of the law”: Baruch Levine, Leviticus 1-20: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary, AB 4, New York (Doubleday) 1993, 490. Popular comparison of Deuteronomy, Exod 20-24* and Josh 24* with oath-sworn aNE contracts for instance, the Vassal Treaty of Esarhaddon (VTE) has lead scholars to overlook covenant treaty imagery used by the Holiness authors throughout the Pentateuch; of course, Lev 26 is exemplary in its covenant theology: Eckart Otto, “Forschungen zur Priesterschrift, TRu 62 (1997): 1-50 (47).

44 In contrast to P, which centers the cultus on the glory of God without mention of any promise of covenant blessing or reward, H is clear that blessing or curse will accompany Israel's action: Otto, “Forschungen,” 46–47.

45 Adriane Leveen, Memory and Tradition in the Book of Numbers, Cambridge (Cambridge University Press) 2008, 151.

46 See Achenbach, Die Vollendung, 318-34, 557-67.

47 S. R. Driver, An Introduction to the Literature of the Old Testament, New York (Charles Schribner's Sons) 1891, 90; Artur Weiser (Einleitung in das Alte Testament, Göttingen [Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht] 1966, 136) identifies as P: Deut 32:48-52; 34:1a, 7-9. Christian Frevel argues Pg culminates with Deut 32:48-50, 52; and 34:1-8: Mit Blick, 348, 375; see also Duane L. Christensen, New Evidence for the Priestly Redaction of Deuteronomy, ZAW 104 (2009): 197-201.

48 Lothar Perlitt, who downplays the Priestly essence of 32:48-52 and calls it a product of Dtr: Priesterschrift im Deuteronomium? ZAW 100 (Supplement 1988): 65-88, esp. 73-76.

49 Eckart Otto, Deuteronomium 23,16-34,12, vol. IV, HThKAT, Freiburg (Herder) 2017, 2200.

50 While I am arguing for Deut 32:48-52 as H (with Knohl, Sanctuary, 94-96), I follow Blum (Studien, 227) that this unit is post-P and unites D with some form of the Priestly writings; for Blum, Num 27:12-14 was repeated in Deut 32:48-52, along with Deut 13; 34:1,7-9*, in order to connect D with KP. Achenbach (Die Vollendung, 560ff.) rightly perceives the organic association of Deut 32:48-52 and Num 27:12-14, but assigns Deut 32:48-52 to PentR, which I argue above is implausible (see above: II. The Unassailable Prophet Moses in the PentR), although the 27:14b gloss may belong to the “Endredaktor” (Schmidt, Priesterschrift, 211-221).

51 See Arnold and Choi, Hebrew Syntax, §3.1.1a, §3.2.1a, §3.1.3a.

52 See Waltke and O'Connor, Hebrew Syntax, §10.1g.40–41.

53 The other five occurrences of √מעל in the Pentateuch are cultic violations (Lev 5:15, 21) and adultery (Num 5:12, 27); but note the covenantal overtones of breaking faith with Yhwh in 5:6, which Knohl (Sanctuary, 86-87, 105) assigns to H. Curiously, Lev 26:40–45 does not end with a clear restoration to the land, but Yhwh only says he will remember his covenant with Israel's forefathers. This might explain why although Moses and Aaron are barred from the land for breaking the covenant, Yhwh does not reject or abhor Moses, as promised in Lev 26:44, and consequently allows Moses to see the good land (Deut 32:52a).

54 Contra Rainer Albertz, who makes a case for attributing Numbers 25-36 to PentR: “This topic would well fit a redactor who was obliged to exclude the book of Joshua from Israel's founding document, on the one hand, but did not want to lose its important message within the Pentateuch, on the other hand. To fulfill his task, he included in Numbers an outline of what had been told in Joshua about the conquest and distribution of land, and presented it in terms of preparation for the future. Thus, one of the main functions of Num 25-36 was to replace the book of Joshua within the scope of the Pentateuch”: A Pentateuchal Redaction in the Book of Numbers? The Late Priestly Layers of Num 25-36, ZAW 125 (2013): 220-33 (230). Against Albertz, it is a non sequitur to conclude that Num 25-36, as an outline of Joshua “presented in terms of preparation for the future,” could function in any meaningful way to replace Joshua. Preparation for the future, by definition, means that the narrative plotline of Num 25-36 is incomplete and anticipates an actualization, such as the one found in the book of Joshua.

55 Römer and Brettler, Deuteronomy 34, 405–07, 416–19; Achenbach, Die Vollendung, 296–99, 566; Otto, Das Deuteronomium im Pentateuch und Hexateuch, 7, 47, 90 (nn. 330, 335), 172 (n. 84), 216, 226, 228–33, 246, 268, 273 (n. 120).

56 Römer and Brettler, Deuteronomy 34, 408–16. This is true even if we limit HexR in these particular texts to: Deut 34:1bβ–3(?) and Josh 24:1–32, with Rainer Albertz, The Formative Impact of the Hexateuch Redaction: An Interim Result, in: Post-Priestly Pentateuch, 65–71.

57 As post-Deut 34 and post-Pg: Frevel, Mit Blick, 378; or with Num. 1–10* as a post-PentR theokratischen Bearbeitung to perfect the Torah: Achenbach, Vollendung, 629–38 (he used the Engl. “perfect” rather than “complete” at the 2018 EABS/SBL meeting in Helsinki).

58 See Knohl, Sanctuary, 180-86.

59 Is this an allusion to the non-P story of human disobedience resulting in death (Gen 2:16-17; 3:3-5, 19, 22–24; cf. Rom 5:12)?

60 See Simeon Chavel, Oracular Law and Priestly Historiography in the Torah, FAT 2/71, Tübingen (Mohr Siebeck) 2014, 196-256.

61 Frevel, The Book of Numbers - Formation, Composition, and Interpretation of a Late Part of the Torah. Some Introductory Remarks, in: Torah and the Book of Numbers, 24-31; Achenbach, Die Vollendung, 571-3; Seebass, Numeri, 452, 460. Itamar Kislev, followed by Albertz (Pentateuchal Redaction, 226), shows how 36:1-12 transfers the inheritance dispute of 27:1-11 from the level of the clan to that of the tribe: Numbers 36:1-12: Innovation and Interpretation, ZAW 122 (2010), 249-259.

62 E.g.: Gen 2:24; 24; 28-29; 34; 38; Num 12:1; Deut 22:13; 24:1.

63 The phrase reads formally: “to the one that is good in their eyes, let them become wives. Only to the clan of their father's tribe, let them become wives” (לטוב בעיניהם תהיינה לנשׁים אך למשׁפחת מטה אביהם תהיינהלנשׁים).

64 The anthropology of Gen 1:27 also comes to mind “…in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them” (בצלם אלהים ברא אתו זכר ונקבה ברא אתם) from the Gen 1:1–2:4a creation account, which Arnold (Holiness Preamble, 332–44) and Tucker (Holiness Composition, 35–44) have convincingly argued was formulated to serve as a Holiness preamble.

65 Accurately Frevel (Numbers, 29) observes, “Yes, there are some peculiarities, but the compositional argument, the clear relatedness of Num 36 to Num 27, and the legal adjustment that grows out of the condition that tenure and tribe belong together, may imply the same literary level.”

66 From these Daughters of Zelophehad scenes, we may assign to PentR only Num 36:(10)11–12, which can function successfully as a replacement for the fulfillment in Josh 17:3–4.


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