Friday, June 30, 2006

Explain the meaning of the Akedah to me again, please

Regular readers of my day blog, "Live Frei or Die, may have remembered that the Akedah is one of my least favorite stories in all of Scripture. However, at least I could derive some consolation that the Jewish consensus what that the story teaches us that Judaism abhors the idea of Human sacrifice.

Well ,I should have known better. As with everything I've been taught about Judaism, that's not strictly true.

In the course of a comment exchange with Rabbi Dr. Pinchas Giller, the discussion turned to 2 Kings, chapters 21-23. This is basically an acocunt of naughty King Menashe of Judah, who "did that what was evil in the sight of the LORD," and of Good King Josiah, who cleaned up the mess.

In the course of the clean-up process, we have the following incident:

23:19 And all the houses also of the high places that were in the cities of Samaria, which the kings of Israel had made to provoke the Lord to anger, Josiah took away, and did to them according to all the acts that he had done in Bethel.
23:20 And he slew all the priests of the high places that were there upon the altars, and burned men's bones upon them, and returned to Jerusalem.

23:20 ‏וַ֠יִּזְבַּח אֶת־כָּל־כֹּהֲנֵ֨י הַבָּמֹ֤ות אֲשֶׁר־שָׁם֙ עַל־הַֽמִּזְבְּחֹ֔ות וַיִּשְׂרֹ֛ף אֶת־עַצְמֹ֥ות אָדָ֖ם עֲלֵיהֶ֑ם וַיָּ֖שָׁב יְרוּשָׁלִָֽם

Basically, the text says that our Good King didn't just execute these priests he executed them on the altar. The Hebrew word translated as "slew" ("yizvach") has the same root (zayin, bet, chet) as the word "mizbe'ach" (altar), and "zevach" (sacrifice) so I can only conclude that Josiah made a human sacrifice as part of his purification of the land of Judah.

How come they didn't teach us that in Hebrew School?


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