The Three Myths About Mount Sinai (Giving of Law to Israel)
The Torah, commonly known as the Bible, is a compilation of ancient literature, many different writings from different parts of Judah/Israel and of different time periods. Modern Era “religious” tradition teaches that the entire Torah was given at the mountain of Sinai, during the visit between the Jewish national god and Moshe/Israel in the wilderness. But, closer to the reality, this myth of divine visitation at Sinai was brought to Judah and Israel by the Levi tribe (the Jewish priests, think Moses and Aaron for reference) during their assimilation into the polytheistic Jewish/Hebrew world that was already established in these lands. Prior to the introduction of this myth of Sinai by the priests, the ancient tradition of how Judah/Israel came to be was that the Jewish national god had found the Israelites wandering in the desert, and there is no mention of a Sinai event in these much older pieces of writing which are preserved in the “canonized” Bible. With the myth of God and Israel at Sinai, there are three versions of this myth (there are at least two to three versions with near all the other myths, as well), which have been redacted together into one complicated and long single mythic narrative (around 500 BCE), during the henotheistic era of Jewish Israel (temple theocratic times). Eventually, with the rise of monotheistic religious theology, through the preservation of Judaism in modern form by the Rabbis (300 BCE to present CE), the myth of Sinai has become the central focus of Israeli religious purpose and has led to the beliefs in Torah Min Hashamayim (the Bible is from Heaven) and Torah miSinai (the entire Bible was given at the mountain of Sinai).
Interestingly enough, no where in Torah is there an encouragement or assertion that one is to “believe” in Torah. The closest word given in the Hebrew Bible is “emunah”, which simply means to have “trust” or have “conviction”. The Bible itself is not to be taken literally, as if it were some form of historical record. Rather, it is to be learned from – ha’Torah, means “the teaching” – for it is a compilation that expresses upon historical occurred events in a fictive and imaginative mythic way for the purpose of imparting an ideology or a lesson of some sort. In the case of the mythic accounts of Sinai, the purpose for establishing this myth as central to theocratic Israel, in temple times, is to create a common narrative by which all Israelis can adopt and define themselves by. In other words, it is an established national history, which all citizens of Israel are expected to treat as if it were Israeli history – regardless whether their ancestors were a part of this small tribe’s visit to Sinai or not. It’s much like here in modern America, wherein all citizens are expected to identify with the mythic history of how America came to be. You know, very nice Europeans fleeing religious persecution who settled peacefully in America, and had good relations with the Native Americans (who had already been established in the land for 15,000 years). Anyone educated in United States history knows that it wasn’t so pleasant or so simple with the real history of America’s founding.
Now, to return to focus on our exploration of the myth of Sinai, below are the three different versions of this myth found in the Bible. … For historical framework when reading ancient Jewish literature, the ancient Judeans/Israelis lived side-by-side with the Canaanite and Egyptian nations, … and other nations. In other words, conquests are a bit exaggerated in these myths, as evidenced by archaeological studies (all cultures/nations of the BCE period exaggerated their national myths, especially regarding the effectiveness of their conquests). Never the less, ….
Yahweh As Israel’s Tribal Lord – the Judean myth (written around 1000-900 BCE)
(Note, in ancient Judean tradition, Yahweh is portrayed as a storm god that has physical form. Also, right from the start, much of what was ritualistic behavior and much of what was the ancient perceptions of “God” in ancient times may prove disconcerting to modern sensitivities. Keep in mind that this is a mythic narrative and, as such, the writers were not concerned with our future ethical sensitivities and perceptions.)
Yahweh said to Moses, “Go to the people, and sanctify them today and tomorrow, and let them wash their garments, and be ready for the third day; for on the third day Yahweh will come down in the sight of all the people on Mount Sinai. You shall set bounds to the people all around, saying, ‘Be careful that you don’t go up onto the mountain, or touch its border. Whoever touches the mountain shall be surely put to death. No hand shall touch him, but he shall surely be stoned or shot through; whether it is animal or man, he shall not live.’ When the trumpet sounds long, they shall come up to the mountain.”
Moses went down from the mountain to the people, and sanctified the people; and they washed their clothes. He said to the people, “Be ready by the third day. Don’t have sexual relations with a woman.” On the third day, when it was morning, all of Mount Sinai smoked, because Yahweh descended on it in fire; and its smoke ascended like the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mountain quaked greatly. Yahweh came down on Mount Sinai, to the top of the mountain. Yahweh called Moses to the top of the mountain, and Moses went up.
Yahweh said to Moses, “Go down, warn the people, lest they break through to Yahweh to gaze, and many of them perish. Let the priests also, who come near to Yahweh, sanctify themselves, lest Yahweh break out on them.” Moses said to Yahweh, “The people can’t come up to Mount Sinai, for you warned us, saying, ‘Set bounds around the mountain, and sanctify it.’ ”
Yahweh said to him, “Go down. Then, you will come up. Don’t let the priests and the people break through to come up to Yahweh, lest he break out against them.” So Moses went down to the people, and told them.
Moses was on the mountain forty days and forty nights.
Yahweh said to Moses, “Chisel two stone tablets. Be ready by the morning, and come up in the morning to Mount Sinai, and present yourself there to me on the top of the mountain. No one shall come up with you or be seen anywhere on the mountain. Do not let the flocks or herds graze in front of that mountain.” He chiseled two tablets of stone. Then Moses rose up early in the morning, and went up to Mount Sinai, as Yahweh had commanded him, and took in his hand two stone tablets.
Yahweh descended in the cloud, and stood with him there, and proclaimed Yahweh’s name. Yahweh passed by before him, and proclaimed, “Yahweh! Yahweh, a merciful and gracious God, slow to anger, and abundant in loving kindness and truth, keeping loving kindness for thousands, forgiving immoral behavior and disobedience and crime; and who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, and on the children’s children, on the third and on the fourth generation.”
Moses hurried, knelt down, and bowed his head toward the land. He said, “If now I have found favor in your sight, my Lord, please let my Lord go among us, even though this is a stiff-necked people; pardon our immoral behavior and our crime, and take us for your inheritance.”
He (Yahweh) said, “Behold, I make a covenant: before all your people I will do marvels, such as have not been worked in all the land, nor in any nation; and all the people among whom you are shall see the work of Yahweh; for it is an awesome thing that I do with you. Observe that which I command you today. Behold, I will drive out before you the Amorite, the Canaanite, the Hittite, the Perizzite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite. Be careful, lest you make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land where you are going, lest it be for a snare among you; but you shall break down their altars, and dash in pieces their pillars, and you shall cut down their Asherah poles; for you shall worship no other god; for Yahweh, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.”
“Don’t make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land, lest they play the prostitute after their gods, and sacrifice to their gods, and one call you and you eat of his sacrifice; and you take of their daughters to your sons, and their daughters play the prostitute after their gods, and make your sons play the prostitute after their gods.”
“You shall make no cast idols for yourselves.”
“You shall keep the feast of unleavened bread. Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, as I commanded you, at the time appointed in the month Abib; for in the month Abib you came out of Egypt.”
“All that opens the womb is mine; and all your livestock that is male, the firstborn of cow and sheep. You shall redeem the firstborn of a donkey with a lamb. If you will not redeem it, then you shall break its neck. You shall redeem all the firstborn of your sons. No one shall appear before me empty.”
“Six days you shall work, but on the seventh day you shall rest: in plowing time and in harvest you shall rest.”
“You shall observe the feast of weeks with the first fruits of wheat harvest, and the feast of harvest at the year’s end. Three times in the year all your males shall appear before Lord Yahweh, the God of Israel. For I will drive out nations before you and enlarge your borders; neither shall any man desire your land when you go up to appear before Yahweh, your God, three times in the year.”
“You shall not offer the blood of my sacrifice with leavened bread. The sacrifice of the feast of the Passover shall not be left to the morning.”
“You shall bring the first of the first fruits of your ground to the house of Yahweh your God.”
“You shall not boil a young goat in its mother’s milk.”
Yahweh said to Moses, “Write these words; for in accordance with these words I have made a covenant with you and with Israel.”
He (Moses) was there with Yahweh forty days and forty nights; he neither ate bread, nor drank water. He wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant, the ten commandments.
Yahweh As Israel’s Covenant Maker – the Israeli myth (written around 900 BCE)
(Note, in ancient priest-influenced Israeli tradition, the storm god we experienced in the Judean version is now noticeably more benevolent – less focused on absolute ruling and more focused on purpose and behavioral direction for the people of Israel. Also, the events take place at Mount Horeb, rather than Mount Sinai. Take note that, as a priest himself, Moses must act as an emissary between the people and their national god, and this god is portrayed as not entirely fore-knowing – rather, he is involved in the process of events along with them. This, we shall see, contrasts with the much later developed portrayal of the national god as fully fore-knowing and simply dictating all that is about to happen, which then gets repeated in full detail as happening.)
Israel camped there before the mountain. Moses went up to God, and Yahweh called to him out of the mountain, saying, “This is what you shall tell the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel: ‘You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings, and brought you to myself. Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice, and keep my covenant, then you shall be my own possession from among all peoples; for all the land is mine; and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests, and a sanctified nation.’ These are the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel.”
Moses came and called for the elders of the people, and set before them all these words which Yahweh commanded him. All the people answered together, and said, “All that Yahweh has spoken we will do.” Moses reported the words of the people to Yahweh. Yahweh said to Moses, “Behold, I come to you in a thick cloud, that the people may hear when I speak with you, and may also believe you through the ages.” Moses told the words of the people to Yahweh.
There were thunders and lightnings, and a thick cloud on the mountain, and the sound of an exceedingly loud trumpet; and all the people who were in the camp trembled. Moses led the people out of the camp to meet God; and they stood at the lower part of the mountain. When the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses spoke, and God answered him by a voice.
All the people perceived the thunderings, the lightnings, the sound of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking. When the people saw it, they trembled, and stayed at a distance. They said to Moses, “Speak with us yourself, and we will listen; but don’t let God speak with us, lest we die.”
Moses said to the people, “Don’t be afraid, for God has come to test you, and that his fear may be before you, that you won’t break law.” The people stayed at a distance, and Moses came near to the thick darkness where God was.
Yahweh said to Moses, “This is what you shall tell the children of Israel: ‘You yourselves have seen that I have talked with you from the sky. You shall most certainly not make gods of silver or gods of gold for yourselves to be alongside me. You shall make an altar of land for me, and shall sacrifice on it your burnt offerings and your peace offerings, your sheep and your cattle. In every place where I record my name I will come to you and I will bless you. If you make me an altar of stone, you shall not build it of cut stones; for if you lift up your tool on it, you have polluted it. You shall not go up by steps to my altar, that your nakedness may not be exposed to it.’ ”
“Now these are the ordinances which you shall set before them: ”
“If you buy a Hebrew servant, he shall serve six years, and in the seventh he shall go out free without paying anything. If he comes in by himself, he shall go out by himself. If he is married, then his wife shall go out with him. If his master gives him a wife and she bears him sons or daughters, the wife and her children shall be her master’s, and he shall go out by himself. But if the servant shall plainly say, ‘I love my master, my wife, and my children. I will not go out free;’ then his master shall bring him to God, and shall bring him to the door or to the doorpost, and his master shall bore his ear through with an awl, and he shall serve him foreseeable time.”
“If a man sells his daughter to be a female servant, she shall not go out as the male servants do. If she doesn’t please her master, who has married her to himself, then he shall let her be redeemed. He shall have no right to sell her to a foreign people, since he has dealt deceitfully with her. If he marries her to his son, he shall deal with her as a daughter. If he takes another wife to himself, he shall not diminish her food, her clothing, and her marital rights. If he doesn’t do these three things for her, she may go free without paying any money.”
“One who strikes a man so that he dies shall surely be put to death, but not if it is unintentional, but God delivers into his hand; then I will appoint you a place where he shall flee. If a man schemes and comes presumptuously on his neighbor to kill him, you shall take him from my altar, that he may die.”
“Anyone who attacks his father or his mother shall be surely put to death.”
“Anyone who kidnaps someone and sells him, or if he is found in his hand, he shall surely be put to death.”
“Anyone who curses his father or his mother shall surely be put to death.”
“If men quarrel and one strikes the other with a stone, or with his fist, and he doesn’t die, but is confined to bed; if he rises again and walks around with his staff, then he who struck him shall be cleared; only he shall pay for the loss of his time, and shall provide for his healing until he is thoroughly healed.”
“If a man strikes his servant or his maid with a rod, and he dies under his hand, the man shall surely be punished. Notwithstanding, if his servant gets up after a day or two, he shall not be punished, for the servant is his property.”
“If men fight and hurt a pregnant woman so that she gives birth prematurely, and yet no harm follows, he shall be surely fined as much as the woman’s husband demands and the judges allow. But if any harm follows, then you must take life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burning for burning, wound for wound, and bruise for bruise.”
“If a man strikes his servant’s eye, or his maid’s eye, and destroys it, he shall let him go free for his eye’s sake. If he strikes out his male servant’s tooth, or his female servant’s tooth, he shall let the servant go free for his tooth’s sake.”
“If a bull gores a man or a woman to death, the bull shall surely be stoned, and its meat shall not be eaten; but the owner of the bull shall not be held responsible. But if the bull had a habit of goring in the past, and this has been testified to its owner, and he has not kept it in, but it has killed a man or a woman, the bull shall be stoned, and its owner shall also be put to death. If a ransom is imposed on him, then he shall give for the redemption of his life whatever is imposed. Whether it has gored a son or has gored a daughter, according to this judgment it shall be done to him. If the bull gores a male servant or a female servant, thirty shekels of silver shall be given to their master, and the ox shall be stoned.”
“If a man opens a pit, or if a man digs a pit and doesn’t cover it, and a bull or a donkey falls into it, the owner of the pit shall make it good. He shall give money to its owner, and the dead animal shall be his.”
“If one man’s bull injures another’s, so that it dies, then they shall sell the live bull, and divide its price; and they shall also divide the dead animal. Or, if it is known that the bull was in the habit of goring in the past and its owner has not kept it in, he shall surely pay bull for bull and the dead animal shall be his own.”
“If a man steals an ox or a sheep, and kills it or sells it, he shall pay five oxen for an ox, and four sheep for a sheep. If the thief is found breaking in, and is struck so that he dies, there shall be no guilt of bloodshed for him. If the sun has risen on him, he is guilty of bloodshed. He shall make restitution. If he has nothing, then he shall be sold for his theft. If the stolen property is found in his hand alive, whether it is ox, donkey, or sheep, he shall pay double.”
“If a man causes a field or vineyard to be eaten by letting his animal loose, and it grazes in another man’s field, he shall make restitution from the best of his own field, and from the best of his own vineyard.”
“If fire breaks out, and catches in thorns so that the shocks of grain, or the standing grain, or the field are consumed; he who kindled the fire shall surely make restitution.”
“If a man delivers to his neighbor money or stuff to keep, and it is stolen out of the man’s house, if the thief is found, he shall pay double. If the thief isn’t found, then the master of the house shall come near to God, to find out whether or not he has put his hand on his neighbor’s goods. For every matter of trespass, whether it is for ox, for donkey, for sheep, for clothing, or for any kind of lost thing, about which one says, ‘This is mine,’ the cause of both parties shall come before God. He whom God condemns shall pay double to his neighbor.”
— Just a quick note, here. Coming “before God” is portrayed anthropomorphically. But, in non-fictive social practicality, this coming before the national god means going to the priest and, by whatever divination the priest employs, “God”‘s decision is thus rendered through the priest. —
“If a man delivers to his neighbor a donkey, an ox, a sheep, or any animal to keep, and it dies or is injured, or driven away, no man seeing it; the oath of Yahweh shall be between them both, he has not put his hand on his neighbor’s goods; and its owner shall accept it, and he shall not make restitution. But if it is stolen from him, the one who stole shall make restitution to its owner. If it is torn in pieces, let him bring it for evidence. He shall not make good that which was torn.”
“If a man borrows anything of his neighbor’s, and it is injured, or dies, its owner not being with it, he shall surely make restitution. If its owner is with it, he shall not make it good. If it is a leased thing, it came for its lease.”
“If a man entices a virgin who isn’t pledged to be married, and lies with her, he shall surely pay a dowry for her to be his wife. If her father utterly refuses to give her to him, he shall pay money according to the dowry of virgins.”
“You shall not allow a sorceress to live.”
“Whoever has sex with an animal shall surely be put to death.”
“He who sacrifices to any god, except to Yahweh only, shall be utterly destroyed.”
“You shall not wrong an alien or oppress him, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt.”
“You shall not take advantage of any widow or fatherless child. If you take advantage of them at all, and they cry at all to me, I will surely hear their cry; and my wrath will grow hot, and I will kill you with the sword; and your wives shall be widows, and your children fatherless.”
“If you lend money to any of my people with you who is poor, you shall not be to him as a creditor. You shall not charge him interest. If you take your neighbor’s garment as collateral, you shall restore it to him before the sun goes down, for that is his only covering, it is his garment for his skin. What would he sleep in? It will happen, when he cries to me, that I will hear, for I am gracious.”
“You shall not blaspheme God, nor curse a ruler of your people.”
“You shall not delay to offer from your harvest and from the outflow of your presses.”
“You shall give the firstborn of your sons to me. You shall do likewise with your cattle and with your sheep. It shall be with its mother seven days, then on the eighth day you shall give it to me.”
“You shall be sanctified men to me, therefore you shall not eat any meat that is torn by animals in the field. You shall cast it to the dogs.”
“You shall not spread a false report. Don’t join your hand with the wicked to be a malicious witness.”
“You shall not follow a crowd to do bad.”
“You shall not testify in court to side with a multitude to pervert justice. You shall not favor a poor man in his cause.”
“If you meet your enemy’s ox or his donkey going astray, you shall surely bring it back to him again. If you see the donkey of him who hates you fallen down under his burden, don’t leave him. You shall surely help him with it.”
“You shall not deny justice to your poor people in their lawsuits.”
“Keep far from a false charge, and don’t kill the innocent and righteous; for I will not justify the wicked.”
“You shall take no bribe, for a bribe blinds those who have sight and perverts the words of the righteous.”
“You shall not oppress an alien, for you know the heart of an alien, since you were aliens in the land of Egypt.”
“For six years you shall sow your land, and shall gather in its increase, but the seventh year you shall let it rest and lie fallow, that the poor of your people may eat; and what they leave the animal of the field shall eat. In the same way, you shall deal with your vineyard and with your olive grove.”
“Six days you shall do your work, and on the seventh day you shall rest, that your ox and your donkey may have rest, and the son of your servant, and the alien may be refreshed.”
“Be careful to do all things that I have said to you; and don’t invoke the name of other gods or even let them be heard out of your mouth.”
“You shall observe a feast to me three times a year. You shall observe the feast of unleavened bread. Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, as I commanded you, at the time appointed in the month Abib, because you came out of Egypt in it, and no one shall appear before me empty. And the feast of harvest, the first fruits of your labors, which you sow in the field; and the feast of ingathering, at the end of the year, when you gather in your labors out of the field. Three times in the year all your males shall appear before the face of Lord Yahweh.”
“You shall not offer the blood of my sacrifice with leavened bread. The fat of my feast shall not remain all night until the morning.”
“You shall bring the first of the first fruits of your ground into the house of Yahweh your God.”
“You shall not boil a young goat in its mother’s milk.”
“Behold, I send an angel before you, to keep you by the way, and to bring you into the place which I have prepared. Pay attention to him, and listen to his voice. Don’t provoke him, for he will not pardon your disobedience, for my name is in him. But if you indeed listen to his voice, and do all that I speak, then I will be an enemy to your enemies, and an adversary to your adversaries. For my angel shall go before you, and bring you in to the Amorite, the Hittite, the Perizzite, the Canaanite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite; and I will cut them off. You shall not bow down to their gods, nor serve them, nor follow their practices, but you shall utterly overthrow them and demolish their pillars. You shall serve Yahweh your God, and he will bless your bread and your water, and I will take sickness away from among you. No one will miscarry or be barren in your land. I will fulfill the number of your days.”
“I will send my terror before you, and will confuse all the people to whom you come, and I will make all your enemies turn their backs to you. I will send the hornet before you, which will drive out the Hivite, the Canaanite, and the Hittite, from before you. I will not drive them out from before you in one year, lest the land become desolate, and the animals of the field multiply against you. Little by little, I will drive them out from before you, until you have increased and inherit the land. I will set your border from the Red Sea even to the sea of the Philistines, and from the wilderness to the River; for I will deliver the inhabitants of the land into your hand, and you shall drive them out before you. You shall make no covenant with them, nor with their gods. They shall not dwell in your land, lest they make you break law against me, for if you serve their gods, it will surely be a snare to you.”
He said to Moses, “Come up to Yahweh, you, and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel; and bow down from a distance. Moses alone shall come near to Yahweh, but they shall not come near. The people shall not go up with him.”
Moses came and told the people all Yahweh’s words, and all the ordinances; and all the people answered with one voice, and said, “All the words which Yahweh has spoken will we do.”
Moses wrote all Yahweh’s words, then rose up early in the morning and built an altar at the base of the mountain, with twelve pillars for the twelve tribes of Israel. He sent young men of the children of Israel, who offered burnt offerings and sacrificed peace offerings of cattle to Yahweh. Moses took half of the blood and put it in basins, and half of the blood he sprinkled on the altar. He took the scroll of the covenant and read it in the hearing of the people, and they said, “We will do all that Yahweh has said, and be obedient.”
Moses took the blood, and sprinkled it on the people, and said, “Look, this is the blood of the covenant, which Yahweh has made with you concerning all these words.”
Then Moses, Aaron, Nadab, Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel went up. They saw the God of Israel. Under his feet was like a paved work of sapphire stone, like the skies for clearness. He didn’t lay his hand on the nobles of the children of Israel. They saw God, and ate and drank.
Yahweh said to Moses, “Come up to me on the mountain, and stay here, and I will give you the stone tablets with the law and the commands that I have written, that you may teach them.”
Moses rose up with Joshua, his servant, and Moses went up onto God’s Mountain. He said to the elders, “Wait here for us, until we come again to you. Behold, Aaron and Hur are with you. Whoever is involved in a dispute can go to them.” Moses went up on the mountain.
When the people saw that Moses delayed coming down from the mountain, the people gathered themselves together to Aaron, and said to him, “Come, make us gods, which shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we don’t know what has become of him.”
Aaron said to them, “Take off the golden rings, which are in the ears of your wives, of your sons, and of your daughters, and bring them to me.”
All the people took off the golden rings which were in their ears, and brought them to Aaron. He received what they handed him, fashioned it with an engraving tool, and made it a molded calf. Then they said, “These are your gods, Israel, which brought you up out of the land of Egypt.”
When Aaron saw this, he built an altar before it; and Aaron made a proclamation, and said, “Tomorrow shall be a feast to Yahweh.” They rose up early on the next day, and offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play.
Yahweh spoke to Moses, “Go, get down; for your people, who you brought up out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves! They have turned away quickly out of the way which I commanded them. They have made themselves a molded calf, and have worshiped it, and have sacrificed to it, and said, ‘These are your gods, Israel, which brought you up out of the land of Egypt.’ ”
Yahweh said to Moses, “I have seen these people, and behold, they are a stiff-necked people. Now therefore leave me alone, that my wrath may burn hot against them, and that I may consume them; and I will make of you a great nation.”
Moses begged Yahweh his God, and said, “Yahweh, why does your wrath burn hot against your people, that you have brought out of the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand? Why should the Egyptians talk, saying, ‘He brought them out for bad, to kill them in the mountains, and to consume them from the surface of the land?’ Turn from your fierce wrath, and turn away from this bad against your people. Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, your servants, to whom you swore by your own self, and said to them, ‘I will multiply your offspring as the stars of the sky, and all this land that I have spoken of I will give to your offspring, and they shall inherit it for all ages.’ ”
So Yahweh turned away from the bad which he said he would do to his people. Moses turned, and went down from the mountain, with the two tablets of the covenant in his hand; tablets that were written on both their sides. They were written on one side and on the other. The tablets were the work of God, and the writing was the writing of God, engraved on the tablets.
When Joshua heard the noise of the people as they shouted, he said to Moses, “There is the noise of war in the camp.” He (Moses) said, “It isn’t the voice of those who shout for victory. It is not the voice of those who cry for being overcome; but the noise of those who sing that I hear.” As soon as he came near to the camp, he saw the calf and the dancing. Then Moses’ anger grew hot, and he threw the tablets out of his hands, and broke them beneath the mountain. He took the calf which they had made, and burned it with fire, ground it to powder, and scattered it on the water, and made the children of Israel drink it.
Moses said to Aaron, “What did these people do to you, that you have brought a great breaking law on them?” Aaron said, “Don’t let the anger of my lord grow hot. You know the people, that they are set on bad. For they said to me, ‘Make us gods, which shall go before us. As for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we don’t know what has become of him.’ I said to them, ‘Whoever has any gold, let them take it off.’ So they gave it to me; and I threw it into the fire, and out came this calf.”
— Note, there is a socio-political message being expressed here between Moses and Aaron, if this is not obvious in reading the myth. We are witnessing in mythic form a Judah versus Israel competitive struggle over the priesthood. In this Israeli version of the Sinai myth, Aaron’s golden calf harkens to King Jerobaum’s golden calf, in the same manner that it is not by accident that Aaron’s and Jerobaum’s sons are near identically named in the ancient Jewish literature. —
Moses saw that the people were out of control, because Aaron had let them lose control, to their shame among their enemies! Moses stood in the gate of the camp, and said, “Whoever is on Yahweh’s side, come to me!” All the sons of Levi gathered themselves together to him. He said to them, “Yahweh, the God of Israel, says, ‘Every man put his sword on his thigh, and go back and forth from gate to gate throughout the camp, and every man kill his brother, and every man his companion, and every man his neighbor.’ ” The sons of Levi did according to the word of Moses. About three thousand men fell of the people that day. Moses said, “Consecrate yourselves today to Yahweh, for every man was against his son and against his brother, that he may give you a blessing today.”
On the next day, Moses said to the people, “You have committed a great crime. Now I will go up to Yahweh. Perhaps I shall make atonement for your crime.”
Moses returned to Yahweh, and said, “Oh, this people have committed a great crime, and have made themselves gods of gold. Yet now, if you will, forgive their crime — and if not, please blot me out of your book which you have written.” Yahweh said to Moses, “Whoever has broke law against me, I will blot him out of my book. Now go, lead the people to the place of which I have spoken to you. Behold, my angel shall go before you. Nevertheless, in the day when I punish, I will punish them for their crime.” Yahweh struck the people, because of what they did with the calf, which Aaron made.
Yahweh spoke to Moses, “Depart, go up from here, you and the people that you have brought up out of the land of Egypt, to the land of which I swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, saying, ‘I will give it to your offspring.’ I will send an angel before you; and I will drive out the Canaanite, the Amorite, and the Hittite, and the Perizzite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite. Go to a land flowing with milk and honey; but I will not go up among you, for you are a stiff-necked people, lest I consume you on the way.”
When the people heard this bad news, they mourned; and no one put on his jewelry. Yahweh had said to Moses, “Tell the children of Israel, ‘You are a stiff-necked people. If I were to go up among you for one moment, I would consume you. Therefore now take off your jewelry from you, that I may know what to do to you.’ ” The children of Israel stripped themselves of their jewelry from Mount Horeb onward.
Now Moses used to take the tent and pitch it outside the camp, far away from the camp, and he called it “The Tent of Meeting.” Everyone who sought Yahweh went out to the Tent of Meeting, which was outside the camp. When Moses went out to the Tent, all the people rose up, and stood, everyone at their tent door, and watched Moses, until he had gone into the Tent. When Moses entered into the Tent, the pillar of cloud descended, stood at the door of the Tent, and Yahweh spoke with Moses. All the people saw the pillar of cloud stand at the door of the Tent, and all the people rose up and bow down, everyone at their tent door.
Yahweh spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend. He turned again into the camp, but his servant Joshua, the son of Nun, a young man, didn’t depart from the Tent. Moses said to Yahweh, “Behold, you tell me, ‘Bring up this people;’ and you haven’t let me know whom you will send with me. Yet you have said, ‘I know you by name, and you have also found favor in my sight.’ Now therefore, if I have found favor in your sight, please show me your way, now, that I may know you, so that I may find favor in your sight; and consider that this nation is your people.”
He said, “My face will go with you, and I will give you rest.” Moses said to him, “If your face doesn’t go with me, don’t carry us up from here. For how would people know that I have found favor in your sight, I and your people? Isn’t it that you go with us? That we are separated, I and your people, from all the people who are on the face of the land?”
Yahweh said to Moses, “I will do this thing also that you have spoken; for you have found favor in my sight, and I know you by name.” Moses said, “Please show me your glory!”
He said, “I will make all my goodness pass before you, and will proclaim Yahweh’s name before you. I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy.” He said, “You cannot see my face, for a human may not see me and live.” Yahweh also said, “Behold, there is a place by me, and you shall stand on the rock. It will happen, while my glory passes by, that I will put you in a cleft of the rock, and will cover you with my hand until I have passed by; then I will take away my hand, and you will see my back; but my face shall not be seen.”
Yahweh As Instruction Giver – the Temple Priest myth (written around 550 BCE)
(Note, in the Priest’s tradition, the entire narrative of the Sinai story has been changed to justify the priesthood and their ritual objects. Yahweh is, of course, now portrayed as a national god that has no physical form of any kind. Through the priests is the only way to experience this national god, which completes the theocratic evolution of God occurring in the earlier Israeli myth. Yahweh is also a talker god – meaning, that the national god instructs the people and the people do accordingly. Additionally, the priest’s version speaks of the “testimony”, rather than the “covenant” as found in the earlier Israeli version. Both are referring to the same concept, but are referring to different spoken words. Further, there is no Decalogue found in this second temple period version of the Sinai myth, due to its noticeable change of literary focus – towards detailed descriptions and away from the narrative found in the Judean and Israeli versions.)
In the third month after the children of Israel had gone out of the land of Egypt, on that same day they came into the wilderness of Sinai. The cloud covered the mountain. Yahweh’s glory settled on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it six days. The seventh day he called to Moses out of the middle of the cloud. The appearance of Yahweh’s glory was like devouring fire on the top of the mountain in the eyes of the children of Israel. Moses entered into the middle of the cloud.
Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the children of Israel, that they take an offering for me. From everyone whose heart makes him willing you shall take my offering. This is the offering which you shall take from them: gold, silver, bronze, blue, purple, scarlet, fine linen, goats’ hair, rams’ skins dyed red, leather skins, acacia wood, oil for the light, spices for the anointing oil and for the sweet incense, onyx stones, and stones to be set for the ephod and for the breastplate. Let them make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them. According to all that I show you, the pattern of the tabernacle, and the pattern of all of its furniture, even so you shall make it.”
“They shall make an ark of acacia wood. Its length shall be two and a half cubits, its width a cubit and a half, and a cubit and a half its height. You shall overlay it with pure gold. You shall overlay it inside and outside, and you shall make a gold molding around it. You shall cast four rings of gold for it, and put them in its four feet. Two rings shall be on the one side of it, and two rings on the other side of it. You shall make poles of acacia wood, and overlay them with gold. You shall put the poles into the rings on the sides of the ark to carry the ark. The poles shall be in the rings of the ark. They shall not be taken from it. You shall put the testimony (the “covenant” in Judean/Israeli versions) which I shall give you into the ark. You shall make a mercy seat of pure gold. Two and a half cubits shall be its length, and a cubit and a half its width. You shall make two cherubim of hammered gold. You shall make them at the two ends of the mercy seat. Make one cherub at the one end, and one cherub at the other end. You shall make the cherubim on its two ends of one piece with the mercy seat. The cherubim shall spread out their wings upward, covering the mercy seat with their wings, with their faces toward one another. The faces of the cherubim shall be toward the mercy seat. You shall put the mercy seat on top of the ark, and in the ark you shall put the testimony that I will give you. There I will meet with you, and I will tell you from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim which are on the ark of the testimony, all that I command you for the children of Israel.”
“You shall make a table of acacia wood. Its length shall be two cubits, and its width a cubit, and its height one and a half cubits. You shall overlay it with pure gold, and make a gold molding around it. You shall make a rim of a hand width around it. You shall make a golden molding on its rim around it. You shall make four rings of gold for it, and put the rings in the four corners that are on its four feet. The rings shall be close to the rim, for places for the poles to carry the table. You shall make the poles of acacia wood, and overlay them with gold, that the table may be carried with them. You shall make its dishes, its spoons, its ladles, and its bowls to pour out offerings with. You shall make them of pure gold. You shall set bread of the presence on the table before me always.”
“You shall make a lamp stand of pure gold. The lamp stand shall be made of hammered work. Its base, its shaft, its cups, its buds, and its flowers shall be of one piece with it. There shall be six branches going out of its sides: three branches of the lamp stand out of its one side, and three branches of the lamp stand out of its other side; three cups made like almond blossoms in one branch, a bud and a flower; and three cups made like almond blossoms in the other branch, a bud and a flower, so for the six branches going out of the lamp stand; and in the lamp stand four cups made like almond blossoms, its buds and its flowers; and a bud under two branches of one piece with it, and a bud under two branches of one piece with it, and a bud under two branches of one piece with it, for the six branches going out of the lamp stand. Their buds and their branches shall be of one piece with it, all of it one beaten work of pure gold. You shall make its lamps seven, and they shall light its lamps to give light to the space in front of it. Its snuffers and its snuff dishes shall be of pure gold. It shall be made of a talent of pure gold, with all these accessories. See that you make them after their pattern, which has been shown to you on the mountain.”
“Moreover you shall make the tabernacle with ten curtains of fine twined linen, and blue, and purple, and scarlet, with cherubim. You shall make them with the work of a skillful workman. The length of each curtain shall be twenty-eight cubits, and the width of each curtain four cubits: all the curtains shall have one measure. Five curtains shall be coupled together to one another, and the other five curtains shall be coupled to one another. You shall make loops of blue on the edge of the one curtain from the edge in the coupling, and you shall do likewise on the edge of the curtain that is outermost in the second coupling. You shall make fifty loops in the one curtain, and you shall make fifty loops in the edge of the curtain that is in the second coupling. The loops shall be opposite one another. You shall make fifty clasps of gold, and couple the curtains to one another with the clasps. The tabernacle shall be a unit.”
“You shall make curtains of goats’ hair for a covering over the tabernacle. You shall make eleven curtains. The length of each curtain shall be thirty cubits, and the width of each curtain four cubits: the eleven curtains shall have one measure. You shall couple five curtains by themselves, and six curtains by themselves, and shall double over the sixth curtain in the forefront of the tent. You shall make fifty loops on the edge of the one curtain that is outermost in the coupling, and fifty loops on the edge of the curtain which is outermost in the second coupling. You shall make fifty clasps of bronze, and put the clasps into the loops, and couple the tent together, that it may be one. The overhanging part that remains of the curtains of the tent — the half curtain that remains — shall hang over the back of the tabernacle. The cubit on the one side and the cubit on the other side, of that which remains in the length of the curtains of the tent, shall hang over the sides of the tabernacle on this side and on that side, to cover it. You shall make a covering for the tent of rams’ skins dyed red, and a covering of leather skins above.”
“You shall make the boards for the tabernacle of acacia wood, standing upright. Ten cubits shall be the length of a board, and one and a half cubits the width of each board. There shall be two tenons in each board, joined to one another: thus you shall make for all the boards of the tabernacle. You shall make twenty boards for the tabernacle, for the south side southward. You shall make forty sockets of silver under the twenty boards; two sockets under one board for its two tenons, and two sockets under another board for its two tenons. For the second side of the tabernacle, on the north side, twenty boards, and their forty sockets of silver; two sockets under one board, and two sockets under another board. For the far side of the tabernacle westward you shall make six boards. You shall make two boards for the corners of the tabernacle in the far side. They shall be double beneath, and in the same way they shall be whole to its top to one ring: thus shall it be for them both; they shall be for the two corners. There shall be eight boards, and their sockets of silver, sixteen sockets; two sockets under one board, and two sockets under another board.”
“You shall make bars of acacia wood: five for the boards of the one side of the tabernacle, and five bars for the boards of the other side of the tabernacle, and five bars for the boards of the side of the tabernacle, for the far side westward. The middle bar in the middle of the boards shall pass through from end to end. You shall overlay the boards with gold, and make their rings of gold for places for the bars. You shall overlay the bars with gold. You shall set up the tabernacle according to the way that it was shown to you on the mountain.”
“You shall make a veil of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen, with cherubim. It shall be the work of a skillful workman. You shall hang it on four pillars of acacia overlaid with gold; their hooks shall be of gold, on four sockets of silver. You shall hang up the veil under the clasps, and shall bring the ark of the testimony in there within the veil. The veil shall separate the sanctified place from the most sanctified for you. You shall put the mercy seat on the ark of the testimony in the most sanctified place. You shall set the table outside the veil, and the lamp stand opposite the table on the side of the tabernacle toward the south. You shall put the table on the north side.”
“You shall make a screen for the door of the Tent, of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen, the work of the embroiderer. You shall make for the screen five pillars of acacia, and overlay them with gold. Their hooks shall be of gold. You shall cast five sockets of bronze for them.”
“You shall make the altar of acacia wood, five cubits long, and five cubits wide. The altar shall be square. Its height shall be three cubits. You shall make its horns on its four corners. Its horns shall be of one piece with it. You shall overlay it with bronze. You shall make its pots to take away its ashes; and its shovels, its basins, its meat hooks, and its fire pans. You shall make all its vessels of bronze. You shall make a grating for it of network of bronze. On the net you shall make four bronze rings in its four corners. You shall put it under the ledge around the altar beneath, that the net may reach halfway up the altar. You shall make poles for the altar, poles of acacia wood, and overlay them with bronze. Its poles shall be put into the rings, and the poles shall be on the two sides of the altar when carrying it. You shall make it hollow with planks. They shall make it as it has been shown you on the mountain.”
“You shall make the court of the tabernacle: for the south side southward there shall be hangings for the court of fine twined linen one hundred cubits long for one side. Its pillars shall be twenty, and their sockets twenty, of bronze. The hooks of the pillars and their fillets shall be of silver. Likewise for the length of the north side, there shall be hangings one hundred cubits long, and its pillars twenty, and their sockets twenty, of bronze; the hooks of the pillars, and their fillets, of silver. For the width of the court on the west side shall be hangings of fifty cubits; their pillars ten, and their sockets ten. The width of the court on the east side eastward shall be fifty cubits. The hangings for the one side of the gate shall be fifteen cubits; their pillars three, and their sockets three. For the other side shall be hangings of fifteen cubits; their pillars three, and their sockets three. For the gate of the court shall be a screen of twenty cubits, of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen, the work of the embroiderer; their pillars four, and their sockets four. All the pillars of the court around shall be filleted with silver; their hooks of silver, and their sockets of bronze. The length of the court shall be one hundred cubits, and the width fifty throughout, and the height five cubits, of fine twined linen, and their sockets of bronze. All the instruments of the tabernacle in all its service, and all its pins, and all the pins of the court, shall be of bronze.”
“You shall command the children of Israel, that they bring to you pure olive oil beaten for the light, to cause a lamp to burn continually. In the Tent of Meeting, outside the veil which is before the testimony, Aaron and his sons shall keep it in order from evening to morning before Yahweh: it shall be a statute for the ages throughout their generations on the behalf of the children of Israel.”
“Bring Aaron your brother, and his sons with him, near to you from among the children of Israel, that he may minister to me in the priest’s office: Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar, Aaron’s sons. You shall make sanctified garments for Aaron your brother, for glory and for beauty. You shall speak to all who are wise-hearted, whom I have filled with the breath of wisdom, that they make Aaron’s garments to sanctify him, that he may minister to me in the priest’s office. These are the garments which they shall make: a breastplate, an ephod, a robe, a fitted tunic, a turban, and a sash. They shall make sanctified garments for Aaron your brother and his sons, that he may minister to me in the priest’s office. They shall use the gold, and the blue, and the purple, and the scarlet, and the fine linen.”
“They shall make the ephod of gold, blue, purple, scarlet, and fine twined linen, the work of the skillful workman. It shall have two shoulder straps joined to the two ends of it, that it may be joined together. The skillfully woven band, which is on it, shall be like its work and of the same piece; of gold, blue, purple, scarlet, and fine twined linen. You shall take two onyx stones, and engrave on them the names of the children of Israel. Six of their names on the one stone, and the names of the six that remain on the other stone, in the order of their birth. With the work of an engraver in stone, like the engravings of a signet, you shall engrave the two stones, according to the names of the children of Israel. You shall make them to be enclosed in settings of gold. You shall put the two stones on the shoulder straps of the ephod, to be stones of memorial for the children of Israel. Aaron shall bear their names before Yahweh on his two shoulders for a memorial. You shall make settings of gold, and two chains of pure gold; you shall make them like cords of braided work. You shall put the braided chains on the settings.”
“You shall make a breastplate of judgment, the work of the skillful workman; like the work of the ephod you shall make it; of gold, of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen, you shall make it. It shall be square and folded double; a span shall be its length, and a span its width. You shall set in it settings of stones, four rows of stones: a row of ruby, topaz, and beryl shall be the first row; and the second row a turquoise, a sapphire, and an emerald; and the third row a jacinth, an agate, and an amethyst; and the fourth row a chrysolite, an onyx, and a jasper. They shall be enclosed in gold in their settings. The stones shall be according to the names of the children of Israel, twelve, according to their names; like the engravings of a signet, everyone according to his name, they shall be for the twelve tribes. You shall make on the breastplate chains like cords, of braided work of pure gold. You shall make on the breastplate two rings of gold, and shall put the two rings on the two ends of the breastplate. You shall put the two braided chains of gold in the two rings at the ends of the breastplate. The other two ends of the two braided chains you shall put on the two settings, and put them on the shoulder straps of the ephod in its forepart. You shall make two rings of gold, and you shall put them on the two ends of the breastplate, on its edge, which is toward the side of the ephod inward. You shall make two rings of gold, and shall put them on the two shoulder straps of the ephod underneath, in its forepart, close by its coupling, above the skillfully woven band of the ephod. They shall bind the breastplate by its rings to the rings of the ephod with a lace of blue, that it may be on the skillfully woven band of the ephod, and that the breastplate may not swing out from the ephod. Aaron shall bear the names of the children of Israel in the breastplate of judgment on his heart, when he goes in to the sanctified place, for a memorial before Yahweh continually. You shall put in the breastplate of judgment the Urim and the Thummim; and they shall be on Aaron’s heart, when he goes in before Yahweh. Aaron shall bear the judgment of the children of Israel on his heart before Yahweh continually.”
“You shall make the robe of the ephod all of blue. It shall have a hole for the head in the middle of it. It shall have a binding of woven work around its hole, as it were the hole of a coat of mail, that it not be torn. On its hem you shall make pomegranates of blue, and of purple, and of scarlet, all around its hem; with bells of gold between and around them: a golden bell and a pomegranate, a golden bell and a pomegranate, around the hem of the robe. It shall be on Aaron to minister: and its sound shall be heard when he goes in to the sanctified place before Yahweh, and when he comes out, that he not die.”
“You shall make a plate of pure gold, and engrave on it, like the engravings of a signet, ‘SANCTIFIED TO YAHWEH.’ You shall put it on a lace of blue, and it shall be on the sash. It shall be on the front of the sash. It shall be on Aaron’s forehead, and Aaron shall bear the iniquity of the sanctified things, which the children of Israel shall make sanctified in all their sanctified gifts; and it shall be always on his forehead, that they may be accepted before Yahweh. You shall weave the tunic with fine linen. You shall make a turban of fine linen. You shall make a sash, the work of the embroiderer.”
“You shall make tunics for Aaron’s sons. You shall make sashes for them. You shall make headbands for them, for glory and for beauty. You shall put them on Aaron your brother, and on his sons with him, and shall anoint them, and consecrate them, and sanctify them, that they may minister to me in the priest’s office. You shall make them linen pants to cover their naked flesh. They shall reach from the waist even to the thighs. They shall be on Aaron and on his sons, when they go in to the Tent of Meeting, or when they come near to the altar to minister in the sanctified place, that they don’t bear iniquity, and die. This shall be a statute for the ages to him and to his offspring after him.”
“This is the thing that you shall do to them to make them sanctified, to minister to me in the priest’s office: take one young bull and two rams without defect, unleavened bread, unleavened cakes mixed with oil, and unleavened wafers anointed with oil. You shall make them of fine wheat flour. You shall put them into one basket, and bring them in the basket, with the bull and the two rams. You shall bring Aaron and his sons to the door of the Tent of Meeting, and shall wash them with water. You shall take the garments, and put on Aaron the tunic, the robe of the ephod, the ephod, and the breastplate, and clothe him with the skillfully woven band of the ephod. You shall set the turban on his head, and put the sanctified crown on the turban. Then you shall take the anointing oil, and pour it on his head, and anoint him. You shall bring his sons, and put tunics on them. You shall clothe them with belts, Aaron and his sons, and bind headbands on them. They shall have the priesthood by a perpetual statute. You shall consecrate Aaron and his sons.”
“You shall bring the bull before the Tent of Meeting; and Aaron and his sons shall lay their hands on the head of the bull. You shall kill the bull before Yahweh at the door of the Tent of Meeting. You shall take of the blood of the bull, and put it on the horns of the altar with your finger; and you shall pour out all the blood at the base of the altar. You shall take all the fat that covers the innards, the cover of the liver, the two kidneys, and the fat that is on them, and burn them on the altar. But the meat of the bull, and its skin, and its dung, you shall burn with fire outside of the camp. It is a crime offering.”
“You shall also take the one ram, and Aaron and his sons shall lay their hands on the head of the ram. You shall kill the ram, and you shall take its blood, and sprinkle it around on the altar. You shall cut the ram into its pieces, and wash its innards, and its legs, and put them with its pieces, and with its head. You shall burn the whole ram on the altar: it is a burnt offering to Yahweh; it is a pleasant aroma, an offering made by fire to Yahweh.”
“You shall take the other ram, and Aaron and his sons shall lay their hands on the head of the ram. Then you shall kill the ram, and take some of its blood, and put it on the tip of the right ear of Aaron, and on the tip of the right ear of his sons, and on the thumb of their right hand, and on the big toe of their right foot; and sprinkle the blood around on the altar. You shall take of the blood that is on the altar, and of the anointing oil, and sprinkle it on Aaron, and on his garments, and on his sons, and on the garments of his sons with him: and he shall be made sanctified, and his garments, and his sons, and his sons’ garments with him. Also you shall take some of the ram’s fat, the fat tail, the fat that covers the innards, the cover of the liver, the two kidneys, the fat that is on them, and the right thigh, because it is a ram of consecration, and one loaf of bread, one cake of oiled bread, and one wafer out of the basket of unleavened bread that is before Yahweh. You shall put all of this in Aaron’s hands, and in his sons’ hands, and shall wave them for a wave offering before Yahweh. You shall take them from their hands, and burn them on the altar on the burnt offering, for a pleasant aroma before Yahweh: it is an offering made by fire to Yahweh.”
“You shall take the breast of Aaron’s ram of consecration, and wave it for a wave offering before Yahweh. It shall be your portion. You shall sanctify the breast of the wave offering and the thigh of the wave offering, which is waved, and which is raised up, of the ram of consecration, even of that which is for Aaron, and of that which is for his sons. It shall be for Aaron and his sons as their portion through the ages from the children of Israel; for it is a wave offering. It shall be a wave offering from the children of Israel of the sacrifices of their peace offerings, even their wave offering to Yahweh.”
“The sanctified garments of Aaron shall be for his sons after him, to be anointed in them, and to be consecrated in them. Seven days shall the son who is priest in his place put them on, when he comes into the Tent of Meeting to minister in the sanctified place.”
“You shall take the ram of consecration and boil its meat in a sanctified place. Aaron and his sons shall eat the meat of the ram, and the bread that is in the basket, at the door of the Tent of Meeting. They shall eat those things with which atonement was made, to consecrate and sanctify them; but a stranger shall not eat of it, because they are sanctified. If anything of the meat of the consecration, or of the bread, remains to the morning, then you shall burn the remainder with fire. It shall not be eaten, because it is sanctified.”
“You shall do so to Aaron and to his sons, according to all that I have commanded you. You shall consecrate them seven days. Every day you shall offer the bull of crime offering for atonement. You shall cleanse the altar when you make atonement for it. You shall anoint it, to sanctify it. Seven days you shall make atonement for the altar, and sanctify it; and the altar shall be most sanctified. Whatever touches the altar shall be sanctified.”
“Now this is that which you shall offer on the altar: two lambs a year old day by day continually. The one lamb you shall offer in the morning; and the other lamb you shall offer at evening; and with the one lamb a tenth part of an ephah of fine flour mixed with the fourth part of a hin of beaten oil, and the fourth part of a hin of wine for a drink offering. The other lamb you shall offer at evening, and shall do to it according to the meal offering of the morning and according to its drink offering, for a pleasant aroma, an offering made by fire to Yahweh. It shall be a continual burnt offering throughout your generations at the door of the Tent of Meeting before Yahweh, where I will meet with you, to speak there to you. There I will meet with the children of Israel; and the place shall be sanctified by my glory. I will sanctify the Tent of Meeting and the altar. I will also sanctify Aaron and his sons to minister to me in the priest’s office. I will dwell among the children of Israel, and will be their God. They shall know that I am Yahweh their God, who brought them out of the land of Egypt, that I might dwell among them: I am Yahweh their God.”
“You shall make an altar to burn incense on. You shall make it of acacia wood. Its length shall be a cubit, and its width a cubit. It shall be square, and its height shall be two cubits. Its horns shall be of one piece with it. You shall overlay it with pure gold, its top, its sides around it, and its horns; and you shall make a gold molding around it. You shall make two golden rings for it under its molding; on its two ribs, on its two sides you shall make them; and they shall be for places for poles with which to bear it. You shall make the poles of acacia wood, and overlay them with gold. You shall put it before the veil that is by the ark of the testimony, before the mercy seat that is over the testimony, where I will meet with you. Aaron shall burn incense of sweet spices on it every morning. When he tends the lamps, he shall burn it. When Aaron lights the lamps at evening, he shall burn it, a perpetual incense before Yahweh throughout your generations. You shall offer no strange incense on it, nor burnt offering, nor meal offering; and you shall pour no drink offering on it. Aaron shall make atonement on its horns once in the year; with the blood of the crime offering of atonement once in the year he shall make atonement for it throughout your generations. It is most sanctified to Yahweh.”
Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying, “When you take a census of the children of Israel, according to those who are counted among them, then each man shall give a ransom for his breathing body (nefesh) to Yahweh, when you count them; that there be no plague among them when you count them. They shall give this, everyone who passes over to those who are counted, half a shekel according to the shekel of the sanctuary – the shekel is twenty gerahs; half a shekel for an offering to Yahweh. Everyone who passes over to those who are counted, from twenty years old and upward, shall give the offering to Yahweh. The rich shall not give more, and the poor shall not give less, than the half shekel, when they give the offering of Yahweh, to make atonement for your breathing bodies. You shall take the atonement money from the children of Israel, and shall appoint it for the service of the Tent of Meeting; that it may be a memorial for the children of Israel before Yahweh, to make atonement for your breathing bodies.”
— Note, the word nefesh is often translated into other languages in our modern times as “soul”. But, this meaning is a CE addition of meaning to this word that conforms to modern theological conventions. The word nefesh, in the ancient BCE “biblical” sense, literally means breathing-body – regardless what species of living creatures it is upon this planet that breathes with life. All breathing creatures are called nefesh in Torah. There are passages that speak of dead nefesh, as well. —
Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying, “You shall also make a basin of bronze, and its base of bronze, in which to wash. You shall put it between the Tent of Meeting and the altar, and you shall put water in it. Aaron and his sons shall wash their hands and their feet in it. When they go into the Tent of Meeting, they shall wash with water, that they not die; or when they come near to the altar to minister, to burn an offering made by fire to Yahweh. So they shall wash their hands and their feet, that they not die. This shall be a statute for the ages to them, even to him and to his descendants throughout their generations.”
Moreover Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying, “Also take fine spices: of liquid myrrh, five hundred shekels; and of fragrant cinnamon half as much, even two hundred and fifty; and of fragrant cane, two hundred and fifty; and of cassia five hundred, according to the shekel of the sanctuary; and a hin of olive oil. You shall make it into a sanctified anointing oil, a perfume compounded after the art of the perfumer: it shall be a sanctified anointing oil. You shall use it to anoint the Tent of Meeting, the ark of the testimony, the table and all its articles, the lamp stand and its accessories, the altar of incense, the altar of burnt offering with all its utensils, and the basin with its base. You shall sanctify them, that they may be most sanctified. Whatever touches them shall be sanctified. You shall anoint Aaron and his sons, and sanctify them, that they may minister to me in the priest’s office. You shall speak to the children of Israel, saying, ‘This shall be a sanctified anointing oil to me throughout your generations. It shall not be poured on man’s flesh, and do not make any like it, according to its composition. It is sanctified. It shall be sanctified to you. Whoever compounds any like it, or whoever puts any of it on a stranger, he shall be cut off from his people.’ ”
Yahweh said to Moses, “Take to yourself sweet spices, gum resin, onycha, and galbanum; sweet spices with pure frankincense. There shall be an equal weight of each. You shall make incense of it, a perfume after the art of the perfumer, seasoned with salt, pure and sanctified. You shall beat some of it very small, and put some of it before the testimony in the Tent of Meeting, where I will meet with you. It shall be to you most sanctified. The incense which you shall make, according to its composition you shall not make for yourselves: it shall be to you sanctified for Yahweh. Whoever shall make any like that, to smell of it, he shall be cut off from his people.”
Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying, “Behold, I have called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah. I have filled him with the breath of God, in wisdom, and in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all kinds of workmanship, to devise skillful works, to work in gold, and in silver, and in bronze, and in cutting of stones for setting, and in carving of wood, to work in all kinds of workmanship. Behold, I myself have appointed with him Oholiab, the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan; and in the heart of all who are wise-hearted I have put wisdom, that they may make all that I have commanded you: the Tent of Meeting, the ark of the testimony, the mercy seat that is on it, all the furniture of the Tent, the table and its vessels, the pure lamp stand with all its vessels, the altar of incense, the altar of burnt offering with all its vessels, the basin and its base, the finely worked garments — the sanctified garments for Aaron the priest, the garments of his sons to minister in the priest’s office — the anointing oil, and the incense of sweet spices for the sanctified place: according to all that I have commanded you they shall do.”
Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak also to the children of Israel, saying, ‘Most certainly you shall keep my Sabbaths (taking-rest days); for it is a sign between me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I am Yahweh who sanctifies you. You shall keep the Sabbath therefore, for it is sanctified to you. Everyone who profanes it shall surely be put to death; for whoever does any work therein, that breathing body shall be cut off from among his people. Six days shall work be done, but on the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, sanctified to Yahweh. Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day shall surely be put to death. Therefore the children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, to observe the Sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual testimony. It is a sign between me and the children of Israel through the ages; for in six days Yahweh made sky and land, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed.’ ”
When he finished speaking with him on Mount Sinai, he gave Moses the two tablets of the testimony, stone tablets, written with God’s finger.
When Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the testimony in Moses’ hand, when he came down from the mountain, Moses didn’t know that the skin of his face glowed by reason of his speaking with him. When Aaron and all the children of Israel saw Moses, behold, the skin of his face glowed; and they were afraid to come near him. Moses called to them, and Aaron and all the rulers of the congregation returned to him; and Moses spoke to them. Afterward all the children of Israel came near, and he gave them all the commandments that Yahweh had spoken with him on Mount Sinai. When Moses was done speaking with them, he put a veil on his face. But when Moses went in before Yahweh to speak with him, he took the veil off, until he came out; and he came out, and spoke to the children of Israel that which he was commanded. The children of Israel saw Moses’ face, that the skin of Moses’ face glowed; so Moses put the veil on his face again, until he went in to speak with him.
Judaism as an ethno-religion was not always monotheistic, and to say such is to be willfully ahistorical. Judaism slowly evolved from its original polytheistic form to a henotheistic form and, ultimately, into a modern monotheistic form over a period of 1,500 years (1200 BCE to 300 CE). It began with pre-monarchical/monarchical polytheistic Judaism (1200 BCE to 600 BCE) – which reverenced the gods Yahweh, El, Baal, and the goddess Asherah, and brought us the myths of the Garden of Eden, Noah and the flood, Avraham and his family gods, the escape from Egyptian slavery, and wandering in the desert. Then arose the temple theocracy henotheistic form (700 BCE to 70 CE) – which reverenced Yahweh as a formless Elohim that is superior to all the gods and goddesses of the local pantheons (the highest “creator” god), and introduced us to the myths of the Six Days of Creation, the lineage of the ancient patriarchs between Adam and Avraham, and the priestly seven day calendar and religious laws. From this evolving Jewish heritage we now have the rise of the present rabbinical monotheistic form of Judaism (300 BCE to present) – which reverences Yahweh Elohim as the only existing one true “creator” god and all other names for “God” are referencing this not directly knowable and utterly formless Yahweh Elohim, and has brought us the first complete Hebrew “Bible” redaction, the written Talmud and the Mishnah, and all the present religio-cultural observances/laws and theology that we are so familiar with today.
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because they need to learn, too #inhisimage #inhislikeness