Wednesday, May 01, 2013

The Arguments from N’Kh: (PART II of 2)

Submitted by David A.

Previously here I outlined how the contents of the books of N’Kh can be seen as arguing that the Torah, as we have it today, had developed over time and was written by multiple authors. The reasoning fir this is simple. The earlier books, consisting of Judges and Samuel have almost no references to terms like Torah or Sefer or to any specific Torah commandment, and even in Kings where the references do begin to show up, they appear much later in the timeline of the recorded history. The implication then is that the there was, at best, a limited version of a Torah at those times in history, while the increasing number of Torah references found in the much later books, like Chronicles, indicates that these authors likely, by then, had a more expanded version of a Torah.  

The faithful believers of TMS, and maybe others, of course, dismiss this argument as not very convincing and meaningless.  Well, maybe…

In this second part, is presented a further analysis of the text in N’Kh that builds on this theme and hopefully will make for a much more compelling and convincing argument.

Note: This is a long post, so for those impatient readers, just skip the details and simply go to the Bottom Line.

Our focus in N’kh is on the Books of Kings (“K) and Chronicles (“C). The exercise is very simple. It has several aspects:

(a)    We compare the narratives in I&II Kings to those in I&II Chronicles and note the differences between the 2 books. There are scores of such differences, with some of them being outright contradictions.
(b)   We compare narratives and laws in Devarim (“D”) to the rest of Chumash, excluding Genesis, as the latter Book is not relevant to our discussion. This artificial document made up of termed ELN. And again, we note these differences. A reasonable listing of these difference can be found at P1, and, and, but I provide some examples below.
(c)    We then compare the list of differences created in (a) to those in (b) and formulate a conclusion.

Now some more needed background to set up the exercise.

(A)       The two books, K and C, recount the history of the kings of Israel during the first Temple period. Setting aside the fact that C basically ignores the Northern kings, the events reported in the 2 books roughly cover the same time period, so that the many narratives and associated pericopes from each book are often duplicated. Thus, many passages can be paired, allowing for a textual comparison of recorded details for many events. 

The noted textual differences between the K and C basically fall into 3 categories.

(a)    Corresponding passages whose text is equivalent, almost word for word, albeit with some minor spelling or inconsequential phrase modifications.  Generally this group of verses is of no interest in this analysis as they provide no meaningful differences in content and text.
(b)   Narratives where the story being recorded is basically the same in each of the parallel set of passages, but the text has some notable differences in content, with the differences being one or more of:
(i)                 some details between the 2 books are contradictory or
(ii)               the author(s) chose to report different details of the event
(iii)             or the overall gist of the text seems to emphasize aspects of events that is in one book but this emphasis is not found in the other.
(c)    An entire event is reported in one book but completely omitted in the other.

(B)    A similar type of comparison as just defined between K and C, can be constructed between D and ELN. We observe that D appears to be a repetition of many events and laws found in ELN with many new ones. Thus, when comparing the 2 documents, narratives or laws can be identified that are either (a) duplicated or (b) are found in one document but not the other. Replicated passages can be compared, and as done above with K and C, we find differences that can be categorized in the same 3 groupings. 

After collecting the information in (A) and (b), we now have a table of two sets of comparisons of:
(A) K with C,
(B)  D with ELN
 And then we compare the sets of comparisons to each other.

Some examples of differences: (*- below indicates a contradiction)

(1) Priesthood. *
            ELN restricts the Priesthood to the (male) descendants of Aaron.
                        D allows any Levite to apply for Priesthood.     (Deut. 10:8 and 18:6)
                        C restricts the Priesthood to the (male) descendants of Aaron.
                                    (IIChr. 13:9)
                        K states that any Levite may become a Kohen.            (I Kings 12:31)
(2) B’nei Aaron. As a corollary to (i),
                        ELN repeatedly uses the phrase “B’nei Aaron” as a euphemism for Kohen.
                        C repeatedly uses the phrase “B’nei Aaron” as a euphemism for Kohen.
                        Both D and K never use this phrase.

(3) Shmini Atzeret.*   (SA)   
                        ELN has a festival on the eighth day of Succot.              .
                        D has no such festival.
C (during the Temple dedication) celebrated SA             (IIChr 7:9-10),
                        K (in the parallel passage) did not celebrate SA         .(II-Kings 8:65-66)

(4) Shmittah.   * The term has contradictory meanings in the various books.
ELN defines it as a commandment to leave the land fallow for a year every 7 years.
                        D has no such law.(Shmittah is defined as a loan remission period)
C Reminds the people of the Shmittah commandment, the same version as ELN.                                                                     (IIChr 36:22),
                        K Makes no mention of it (nor any reference to leaving the land fallow)

(5) Shmittah. A corollary to (iv)
ELN warns that transgressing (i.e. working the land) on Shmittah will bring about exile.
                        D has no such admonition.
C Tells the people that the exile was because of transgressing Shmittah. 
                                                                                             (IIChr 36:22),
                        K No mention of Shmittah as a cause of exile.

(6)  Kapporah. The Kohen’s ability to bring about expiation.
                        ELN Kapporah is a common and repetitive theme throughout ELN
                        D has no such concept
C say that kapporah can be performed by the Kohen            (IIChr 36:22)
                        K No mention of kapporah

To continue …. In a more succinct fashion.

The following is a list of items, which are any of: a Torah commandment, a unique word, a term, or an identifiable phrase) that appear  in C and ELN, but not in D or K. The list is in no special order.

(7) unclean person banned from Pascal offering, (8) Temple offerings were done every Shabbat, (9) Fixed special offerings for  New Moon (10) Pesach is dated on the 14th of the month (11) Succot is dated on the 15th of the month (12) term for cities of refuge: “orei miklot”(13) term for holiday: “Mo-ed” (14) Pesach Sheni (15) Impure person banned from Temple/Sanctuary (16) Divine punishment meted out for an individual who sins (other than idolatry) (17) Tithe for the Levite (Ma-aser Levi) (18) Portion for the Kohen (Terumah) (19) Tithe from animals (20) phrase: “salt covenant” (21) use of lots (“gorel”) (22i) Fire descends from heaven at Temple/Tabernacle dedication (23) term for rebelling against God: “me-ilah” (24) phrase: believe in God and his prophets: (25) term for Tabernacle: “ohel ha-eidut” (26) phrase: called by name, “nikvu b’sheimot (27) term for filth or impurity: “niddah” (28) term for altar: “mizbach Oilah” (29) phrase “arise God (30) halk-shekel, aka “ma-as Moishe” (31) satyrs aka say-irim (32) Only Levites allowed to carry the Ark (33) Levites must carry ark on shoulder as written in the Torah (34) Levites had allocated cities (35) Moishe was a Levite (36) Prominence of Aaron (37) Aaron is Moishe’s brother (38) Eligibility of Levites over age thirty (39) Book has strong interest in genealogies (40) Reference to the Tabernacle that Moishe built (41) Reference to the altar that Betzalel built (42) tasks of Gershon, Kehot and Marorri (43) priests require sanctification prior to service (44) special trumpets for Priests (45) term: for God’s sanctuary (Mishkan Hashem) (46) blood of offering is thrown at altar (not only poured on top) (48) Kohen’s job to throw blood at altar (49) Tribal names listed (50) Levites operate under supervision of priests (51) Levites as guardians of the Temple/Sanctuary, (52) layman banned from offering up incense (53)  sin-offerings among types of offerings, i.e. “chatot or “asham”)  (54) thanksgiving offering among types of offerings, i.e. “to-dah” (55) incense/spices offering “ketorat ha’samim” (56) leaning prior to sacrifice (S’micha) (57) burning fat of Pascal offering (57) concern for sanctity (“kedusha”) high and pervasive (58) Priests (only) invoke God’s blessing (60) stones of the breastplate (61) phrase for resident aliens: “ger v’toshav:” (62) no concept of “Ahavat Hashem”

While it is understandable that Chronicles has a lot more emphasis on temple related activities and commandments, and that the authors may have different views and attitudes, explaining mushc of the vast differences, yet it doesn’t account for:

1.        The paucity of the above items in the Book of Kings..
2.        The coincidence that these items listed that are missing in K, ALL are also missing from D.
3.        The contradictions between C and K, are also contradictions between EKLN and D.
4.        And most striking of all, is that in many parallel verses between K and C that have differing details, with changes, these differences are almost universally also differences (or contradictions) between D and ELN.

To truly appreciate Point 4, here is a sub-set of the parallel verses or passages. Look these up and compare. The consistency of differences, i.e.of C vs K matching ELM vs D),  is remarkable.

1.      Solomon visits tabernacle at Gibeon:                II-Chr 1:2-6        vs.      I-K 3:4
2.      Ark is placed in newly built Sanctuary              II-Chr 5:11-12    vs       I-K 8:11
3.      Dedication of Temple ceremony & Succot       II-Chr 7:8-10      vs       I-K 8:65-66
4.      Solomon moves his Egyptian wife                    II-Chr 8:11         vs       I-K 9:24
5.      Solomon’s Temple activities                             II-Chr 8:12-13    vs       I-K 9:25
6.      Jehodoa’s plans to anoint king                          II-Chr 2 3:2         vs       II-K 11:4
7.      Remark about Jotham’s righteousness              II-Chr 27:3          vs       II-K 15:34

Bottom Line.

The Books of Kings and Chronicles basically record the same era in Jewish history and thereby have many passages reporting on the same event. The verses therein should be, except for minor scribal errors, textually equivalent. Yet we find many parallel passages containing contradictions and/or differing details or terminology. We have dozens of such examples. The remarkable fact is that these differences and contradictions form a set that is almost replicated by a set of similar differences and/or contradictions between Devarim and the rest of the Torah, (excluding Bereishit).


The author(s) of Kings had a Torah which seemed restricted to Devarim, while two hundred or so years later, the author(s) of Chronicles had a much more expanded Torah which contain parts of what is now Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers.


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