Thursday, October 01, 2009

What are the Arba Minim for?

Here's an interesting bit of speculation about the meaning of Nehemia 8:12-18.  These verse seem to giive an unconventional interpretation of Leviticus 23:40, suggesting that in Nehemia's days people built their sukkot from the Arba Minin. Here's the passage:
And they found written in the Torah that YHWH commanded through Moses that the Children of Israel dwell in Booths (Succoth) in the Seventh month. And concerning that which they heard [in the public reading] they passed a voice through all their cities and Jerusalem saying 'Go out to the mountain and bring olive branches and oil tree branches and myrtle branches and date branches and branches of thick trees to make booths, as it is written. And the people went out and they brought and they made for themselves booths, each man on his roof and in their courtyards and in the courtyard of the House of God and in the broad areas of the Water Gate and the broad areas of Ephraim Gate."
Though this seems strange to us, using the Arba Minim as a building material is actually a reasonable interpretation of Leviticus 23:40, the verse which tells us to "take" the Arba Minin. It seems indisputable that this is what Nehemia describes. Interestingly, the esrog is not mentioned in Nehemia; instead the people apparently used olives to meet the requirement of bringing a fruit from an Etz Hadar or "majestic" tree.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Bad times make a good man.

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