Monday, January 28, 2013

Who wrote Exodus 16:35? A Torah true answer and a kefira answer

Who is the author of Exodus 16:35? (the other verse have been provided for context)

לד  כַּאֲשֶׁר צִוָּה יְהוָה, אֶל-מֹשֶׁה; וַיַּנִּיחֵהוּ אַהֲרֹן לִפְנֵי הָעֵדֻת, לְמִשְׁמָרֶת.34 As the LORD commanded Moses, so Aaron laid it up before the Testimony, to be kept.
לה  וּבְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל, אָכְלוּ אֶת-הַמָּן אַרְבָּעִים שָׁנָה--עַד-בֹּאָם, אֶל-אֶרֶץ נוֹשָׁבֶת:  אֶת-הַמָּן, אָכְלוּ--עַד-בֹּאָם, אֶל-קְצֵה אֶרֶץ כְּנָעַן.35 And the children of Israel did eat the manna forty years, until they came to a land inhabited; they did eat the manna, until they came into the borders of the land of Canaan.
לו  וְהָעֹמֶר, עֲשִׂרִית הָאֵיפָה הוּא.  {פ}36 Now an omer is the tenth part of an ephah. {P}

I am asking for two reasons:

(1) The verse couldn't have been written by Moshe, as the manna stopped falling about a month after his death. When the manna began falling Moshe had no way of knowing it would end when the people entered Canaan and no way of knowing that it would fall for 40 years. (Of course, you can play the "prophecy" card, which is fine, but you still must agree this verse was not revealed to the people and added to the Torah until after Moshe died*. Perhaps Moshe whispered the verse to Joshua before he departed for Har Nebo, with instructions to add it to the Torah in six weeks time.)

(2) Verse 35 looks like a doublet or two different accounts of the same event. We're told that the the Israelites a) ate manna  for forty years, until they reached an inhabited land; and that b) they ate manna  until they came to the borders of Canaan.

Torah True Answer:
There's no problem at all with saying that some words, glosses, and even verses were added by men other than Moshe. I've blogged about this at length, but the definitive summary - including the not to be missed thoughts of the criminally unknown rishon R' Yosef Tov Eluem - is provided here by Adderabi.

To my eyes, it certainly looks like verse 35 was added later by someone who knew how things ended. As you'll see R' Yosef Tov Elum allows for this.  (Going, further, verse 36 looks like a gloss provided by someone who worried readers wouldn't recognize the word "omer," doesn't it?)

I don't see any theological problem in observing this problem, nor do I think any important principle is offended by the solution given here which I'll say again is based on the teachings of a rishon.

Kefira Answer:
Richard Eliot Friedman says that the first part of the verse belongs to P, a school of writers he says was active at the end of the First Temple period (other heretics put P at the beginning of the Second Temple) The second part of the verse, he says, is J.

I don't know his justification for this identification, but perhaps with some concentration and review I'll succeed at working it out.

* The reason: Its a basic yesod of time-travel that you can't tell someone his or her own future. So if Moshe had announced to them (writing in the past tense no less!) that the manna would stop in 40 years (before they even committed the sin that required the forty year detour!) you'd have some serious metaphysical Back to the Future level problems

Search for more information about Torah  

No comments: