Friday, March 30, 2012

How the Passover laws changed (Part 1)

In Parshas Bo (Exodus 12),  Moshe receives a whole host of laws governing the conduct of the Passover sacrifice. Forty years later, these laws are reiterated and recorded in Parshas Re'Eh (Deuteronomy 16) with some significant changes.

First a recapitulation of the differences:

Here are the rules set out in Exodus 12:
  • Use only a lamb or a kid (12:3 every man shall take a seh...You may take it from the sheep or from the goats
  • Roast the sacrifice whole over an open fire. Don't break any bones, and don't cut the meat.
  • Don't eat it raw or boil it in water (12:9 Do not eat any of it raw or boiled in water, but roasted, its head with its legs and its inner parts.) The words are אַל־תֹּאכְלוּ מִמֶּנּוּ נָא וּבָשֵׁל מְבֻשָּׁל בַּמָּיִם
  • No altar is necessary; make the sacrifice at home
  • Offer it at the beginning of the evening (12: 6 the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill their lambs at twilight.[=בֵּין הָעַרְבָּיִם])
  • After the meal, stay in your house until morning. (12:22 None of you shall go out of the door of his house until the morning).
Here are the rules set out in Deuteronomy 16:
  • Use any domestic, kosher animal you like (16:2 And you shall offer the Passover sacrifice to the Lord your God, from the flock or the herd)
  • Cook it in water (16:7 And you shall cook it and eat it.) The words are וּבִשַּׁלְתָּ וְאָכַלְתָּ
    (Note: In Exodus we're specifically DO NOT BShL; here the command is to BShL)
  • No mention of keeping the sacrifice whole
  • An alter is necessary (16: 2 at the place that the Lord will choose, to make his name dwell there;  16:6 but only at the place that the Lord your God will choose, to make his name dwell in it, there you shall offer the Passover sacrifice)
  • The sacrifice is brought at a different time; though its unclear how the two times are different (16:6 You shall sacrifice the Passover in the evening [at sunset?], at the time that you came out of Egypt.... [=בָּעָרֶב כְּבֹוא הַשֶּׁמֶשׁ])
  • You can't bring the sacrifice at home (16:5 You may not offer the Passover sacrifice within any of your towns)
  • Spend the night of the sacrifice away from home (16:7 And in the morning you shall turn and go to your tents.)
The Rabbis and the critics are alert to these differences, of course, and offer explanations. We'll discuss their solutions in the next post.

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