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Profane Slaughter and a Formulaic Key

to the Composition of Deuteronomy

University of California at Berkeley
. a Sacral Not a Profane Term. The concession made by Deuteronomy
(D) t o profane slaughter is found twice within the same pericope: Deut.
2 1
both, the key verb "slaughter" is rendered by . Its use here
occasions surprise because elsewhere in biblical Hebrew and cognate Ian-
guages it bears a sacral connotation.
Of the 129 times it occurs in Scripture it most often connotes sacrificial
slaughter, e.g. Exod. 23:18 [|| , Exod. 34:25]; Isa. 66:3 [|| ] and
Hos. 8:13 [see below]. This is also the dominant meaning of all its cognates.
The case of Ugaritic is most illuminating. Ug. dbh chiefly designates sacri-
ficial slaughter, e.g., 20 [12 1] A, 1, 10; 32 [2] 24, 32. As in Hebrew, the
cultic context is corroborated by the nominal forms: / dbh and /
mdbh(t), i.e., sacrificial meal and altar. Again in both languages, the verb
carries *with it a secondary meaning "offer the / dbh sacrifice"; e.g.,
compare the offering of the and : with that of the
[Lev. 9:2, 4; Deut. 18:3; I Sam. 2:15; Zech. 14:11]; for
Ugaritic, see 16.1 [125] 39, 61.
also describes illegitimate sacrifices t o the Lord (e.g., Isa. 65:3;
Ezek. 20:25) and worship of other gods (e.g., Exod. 34:15; Deut. 32:17;
Judg. 16:23). I
t s
scope also includes a metaphoric usage, the of corpses
which the Lord arrays for "the wild beasts and birds (e.g., Isa. 34:6; Jer.
46:10; Ezek. 39:17-19; Zeph. 1:7-8) but even here the sacrificial context
is evident from the use of cultic vocabulary: , , etc.
( ) See the entries under , Koehler-Baumgartner (KB), ed.
However, note the
comment of the Chicago Assyrian Dictionary (CAD), Z, 106 that OB ztbu A (whence SB
zebu) originally meant cooked meat offered to the gods. Even so, the cultic context is clear.
(2) Note esp. 11) . . . Kings 23:20; cf.
I Kings 13:2). Of course, the priests are not "sacrificed," but since their slaughter takes
place on the altar, the choice of is appropriate.
Finally, pi
el is found twice with the iterative connotation of performing
numerous sacrifices (I Kings 8:5 [II Chron. 5:6]; II Chron. 30:32) and in
the remaining instances with regard t o illegitimate or idolatrous worship
(I Kings 3:2-3; 11:8; 24:44; II Kings 12:4, 32; 14:4; 15:4, 35; 16:4
[II Chron. 28:4]; Hos. 4:13-14; 11:2; 12:2; Hab. 1:16; Ps. 136:38;
II Chron. 28:23; 33
: 2 2
) Thus the pi
el also verifies that the root is
exclusively a cultic term, referring t o ritual slaughter and sacrifice.
According t o the Lexicons, there are seven alleged exceptions. Five of
them seem t o deal with non-sacrificial feasts (Num. 22:40; I Sam. 28:24;
I Kings 19:16, 2 1; Ezek. 34:3; II Chron. 18:2). However, a closer examina-
tion of their respective contexts will not support this claim. Neither Balak
nor Ahab would have invited Balaam or Jehoshaphat, respectively, t o a pro-
fane feast (Num. 22:40; II Chron. 18:2) whose purpose was t o implore the
help of the Lord against the enemy. It is hardly conceivable that Elisha would
have slaughtered the team of oxen for a profane meal in celebration of his
anointment as Elijah's successor (I Kings 19:16, 2 1). Nor is it likely that
the witch of Endor would have prepared a profane meal (I Sam. 28:24)
before the very king who troubled himself t o improvise an altar on the
battlefield so that his troops would not be guilty of profane or illicit
(I Sam. 14:32-35). It is possible that the last of these alleged exceptions
(Ezek. 34:3) deals with profane slaughterthough the text is obscuresince
its setting is in the Babylonian exile when sacrifice was impossible and after
the deuteronomic concession had gone into effect. Indeed, according t o the
accepted view that profane slaughter was permitted for the first time with
the promulgation of Deuteronomy under Josiah,
a legal sanction for profane
slaughter is simply out of the question for early Israel.
2. The Anomaly of Deut. 72.75,
2 1
The t wo instances which remain (Deut.
a r e
indeed exceptions t o the rule. They read as follows:
- . . . , "But whenever you desire, you may
slaughter and eat meat . . . i n all your settlements" (12:15);
. . . "you may slaughter any of your
cattle or sheep . . . as I commanded you and you may eat in your settle-
ments". (12:2 1). The context leaves no room for doubt: Deuteronomy's
demand for cult centralization makes profane slaughter imperative. Wh y then
(3) Cf. Y. M. Grintz, "Do Not Eat on the Blood," Annual of the Swedish Theological
Institute in Jerusalem 8 (1970/71), 78-105.
(4) Cf. R. Ishmael in Sifre on Deut. 12:20; baraita Hullin 16b and most moderns.
does it use the verb which, as shown, never refers t o profane slaughter
but only t o the slaughter and preparation of sacrifices?
The key t o this puzzle, I submit, lies in a clause in the second citation:
"you may slaughter. . . . as I commanded you" (v. 2 1). What
is the antecedent; t o what command does it refer? Modern scholars, without
exception, hold that this phrase in v. 2 1 refers back t o the similar instruction
of v. 15, i.e., Israelites may now obtain meat by profane slaughter (v. 2 1)
as indicated earlier in the same pericope (v. 15). This interpretation cannot
stand for three reasons:
(1) " I commanded you" implies an obligation. However, the tone
of the pericope"Whenever you desire" (vv. 15, 20, 2 1); "if you have
the desire" (v. 20)implies volition. Profane slaughter, just like eating meat,
is a matter of choice, not a requirement.
(2) D. Z. Hoffmann correctly observed
that whenever Deuteronomy
refers t o its own statements it invariably resorts t o the expression
"that I command" (4:2, 40; 6:2, 6; 7:11; 8:1, 11; 10:13; 11:8, 13,
22, 27, 28; 12:14,
8 [N.B. in the same chapter!]; 13:11, 19; 15:5; 19:9;
27:1, 4, 10; 28:1, 13, 14, 15; 30:2, 8, i l , 16). Thus when Deut. cites itself
it always uses the participle and never the perfect.
(3) More importantly, the clause or or
serves a specific literary function in Deuteronomy: it is, I submit, D' s unique
formula by which it indicates its sources.
3. / / Refers to Us Sources. / / is
found 32 times in Deuteronomy: 1:11, 19, 21; 2:1, 14; 4:5; 5:12, 16, 28-29;
6:31 19 25; 9-3;

5 9; 11:25; 12:21; 13:18; 15:6; 18:2; 19:8; 20:7;
24:8; 26:15, 18, 19; 27:3; 28:9; 29:12; 31:3; 34:9. At first glance, there is
nothing extraordinary about this clause. However, D' s peculiar use of it
sets it apart as a literary formula. First, let it be noted that does
not occur in the Tetrateuch. More importantly, bears a special
meaning in D. In the Tetrateuch it means either "as he commanded" (e.g.,
Gen. 12:4; 24:51; 27:9; Exod. 1:17; Lev. 10:5; Num. 5:4; 17:12; 23:2;
27:3) or "as he spoke" (e.g., Gen. 18:5; Exod. 7:13; 9:35) In D, however,
only means "as he promised." And since a divine promise is as
(5) Das Buch Deuteronomium, I (Berlin, 1913 ),ad loc.
(6) In Deut. 31:5, 29 Moses projects the future condition of his people and it is thus
logical that his own generation encamped on the plains of Moab should be referred t o by
a perfect. Besides, most critics hold that ch. 31 is a later appendix and need not adhere t o
deuteronomic style.
binding as an oath, it is not surprising t o find and
used synonymously.
This synonymity can be demonstrated by the following parallels:
1) - - "When the Lord enlarges
your territory as He promised you" (12:20);
"and when the Lord your God enlarges your territory
as He swore t o your fathers" (19:8); 2)
"and that you shall be, as He promised, a holy people t o the Lord your
God" (26:19); "The Lord shall estab-
lish you as His holy people as He swore t o you" (28:12; cf. also 19:8).
Examination of the remainder of the occurrences of will show
that they also bear this meaning (cf. 1:11, 2 1; 6:19; 9:3; 10:9; 11:25;
.(31:3 ;27:3 ;26:18 ;18:2
Thus the possibility must be reckoned with that / /
is Deuteronomy's "cf. , " its unique formula t o indicate the sources which it
assumes are so obvious t o the reader that there is no need t o quote them.
If this be true, then this formulastrewn so liberally throughout the book
should reveal the major source or sources from which D drew its material.
The occurrences of the formula will be grouped according t o their context.
4. The References to E. 1) References t o the fertility of seed and soil (Deut.
: 11 ; 13:18; 15:6) are found in all pentateuchal sources; e.g., Gen. 12:2 (J) ;
22:7 (E); 26:4, 24 (J); 35:11 (P); Exod. 23:25-26 (E). It may, however,
be of some importance that D' s fullest description of Canaan's fertility
(7:14-15) is clearly influenced by Exod. 23:25-26 (E).
2) The Decalogue in D contains the added formula in the fourth
and fifth commandments (Deut. 5:12, 16) demonstrating D' s dependency on
the Exodus decalogue, cf. Exod. 20:8-12.
A corollary t o this deduction is
(7) Ostensibly, Deut. 2:1 is an exception to this rule for in this instance
can only signify "as the Lord had commanded." However, the antecedent to this phrase
is the instructions given in Deut. 1:40, behind which lies the original source in Num.
14:25; see the discussion below.
(8) The description of the Land as "flowing with milk and honey" is also included
among the promises of
3 ;26:15 ;6:3) ) This metaphor is common to all
the pentateuchal sources, e.g., Exod. 3:8, 17 (J); Exod. 33:3 (E); Lev. 20:24 (P). It is
nonetheless surprising that it is entirely absent in Genesis, a fact that probably was re-
sponsible for Nachmanides' comment (on 26:15) that "our fathers" to whom the promise
was made were not the patriarchs but the generation of the Exodus.
(9) See Ibn Ezra, Nachmanides, Hizkuni, ad loc. According to Exod. 16:22-29 (JP)
the Sabbath was decreed not at Sinai but earlier at Marah (so Seder Olam Rabbah and
that D does not negate the theological foundation of the Sabbath in the
Exodus version
but, t o the contrary, accepts it while adding its own human-
istic justification.
3) , "laws and norms" given at Horeb but operative in
Canaan (Deut. 4:5; 5:28-29) can only refer t o the Covenant Code, Exod.
20:22-23:19 (cf. 24:3 and Ibn Ezra on Deut. 4:14) as D itself asseverates:
" At that time (i.e., at Horeb, cf. Deut. 4:10) the Lord commanded me t o
impart t o you laws and norms for you t o observe in the
land which you are about t o cross into and occupy" (Deut. 4: 14).
It is
generally accepted that the Covenant Code is t o be attributed t o E.
1 3
4) Israel's characteristics as and , "a treasured people" and
"a holy people" (Deut. 26:18-19; 28:9; 7:6) are borrowed from Exod.
19:5-6 (E).
It should be noted that for D these characteristics are not
innate in Israel
but are conditioned by the observance of the command-
ments (, Deut. 26:18; , Deut. 28:19, and note the future directed
verbs , , Deut. 26:18-19; esp. , Deut. 28:9). Thus D does
not differ with the other pentateuchal sources in its view of Israel's holiness.
5) D' s notion of the conquest of Canaan (Deut. 6:19; 9:3; 11:25) draws
upon Exod. 23:23-31 (E).
Mechilta, ad loc.). However, this possibility is precluded, as will be shown, by D' s de-
pendency on E.
(10) So M. Weinfeld, Deuteronomy and the Deuteronomic School (Oxford: London,
1972), 222.
(11) The fifth commandment is supplemented in D by which must be
rendered "that you may long endure" (NJPS). Thus, true to its pragmatic approach, D
holds out prosperity as well as land tenure as rewards for keeping the commandments
(cf. 4:40; 5:26; 6:3; 12:25,
8; 22:7) and cf. H. C. Brichto, "Kin, Cult, Land and
Afterlifea Biblical Complex," HUCA 44 (1973), 30 f.
(12) in 1:19 refers to the preceding verse: "Thus I instructed you at that
time" (1:18), again a reference to the law-giving at Horeb (cf. 1:6, 19).
(13) Though some scholars claim that the Covenant Code experienced a deuteronomic
redaction, they would still agree that the core text is that of E; cf. . S. Childs Exodus
OTL (Westminster: Phila., 1974), 451-458.
(14) Some attribute Exod. 19:5-6 to D, but cf. Childs, ibid., 360 f.; W. Beyerlin,
Origin and History of the Oldest Sinaitic Traditions (Oxford, 1965), 6-11.
(15) So Weinfeld, op. cit. (. io, above), 227 f.
(16) See Exod. 19:5 (J, note ); Exod. 22:30 (E, note );.Lev. 11:44-45;
19:2; 20:26 (all P, note , ).
(17) See Rashi on Deut. 11:25; the adverb , "soon" (9:3) must be qualified by
Deut. 7:22, which, like its Vorlage, Exod. 23:20 fF., also posits a gradual conquest.
6) The boundaries of the land after the conquest is completed (,
Deut. 12:20; 19:8) are those of Deut. 1:7; 11:24, corresponding in outline
t o Gen. 15:18 (J) and Exod. 23:31 (E).
7) The formula also appears in D' s version of the wilderness narrative
(Deut. 1:21; 2:14). True, it is a composite of several sources.
the chronology of the journey implied by the passages containing the formula
points t o an unqualified reliance upon E. The command:
'Go up, take poses-
sion, as the Lord, God of your fathers, promised you" (Deut. 1:2 1) was,
according t o D, given at Kadesh (cf. 1:19) before the episode of the spies
(1:22 ff.). The other occurrence of the formula (Deut. 2:14) emphasizes
that the Israelites reached Kadesh at the beginning of their wanderings.
M. Haran has already demonstrated that E is the only source which posits
that the spies were sent out from Kadesh at the beginning of the wilderness
period over against the other sources, J and P, which assume that the Israelites
reached Kadesh at the end of this period.
Haran' s thesis is now confirmed
by D' s explicit formula concerning its sources, pointing t o the wilderness
chronology presupposed by E.
8) The herem () injunction (Deut. 20:16-17) is unique t o D. It is
nowhere t o be found in the other pentateuchal sources. Exod. 23:20-33 (E)
comes closest by demanding the total expulsion of the indigenous popula-
But expulsion is not extermination. True, herem is enjoined once in
the Covenant Code: , "Whoever sacrifices
t o a god other than the Lord shall be proscribed" (Exod. 22:19, E). However,
(18) It is not certain if D' s boundaries are congruent with those of P. For example,
P' s northern boundary is Lebo Hamath (Num. 34:7-9; cf. Ezek. 47:16-17), not the
(19) The spy story (Deut. 1:22-46), also bears traces of both in verbal correspond-
enees (e.g., comp. Deut. 1:39 with Num. 14:31) and ideology; cf. S. E. Loewenstamm,
"The Relation of the Settlement of Gad and Reuben in Num. XXXII: 38Its Background
and Composition," Tarbiz 42 (1972/73), 24-25, esp. n. 13 (Heb. and Eng. summary);
G. W. Coats, Rebellion in the Wilderness (Abingdon: Nashville, 1968), 150 f.
(20) M. Haran, "The Exodus Routes in the Pentateuchal Sources," Tarbiz 40 (1970/71),
113-143 (Heb. and Eng. summary); Eng. trans, in IDB Suppl. (1976), 304-310.
(2 1) also enjoins expulsion (cf. Num. 33:51-56), but the language of D (cf. esp.
Deut. 7:1-5, 2 2-26), is clearly dependent on Exod. 23:20-33 (E). J, as is well known,
prohibits covenants with the indigenous population and demands the destruction of their
cult objects (Exod. 34:12-16), but does not explicitly insist on their expulsion. True, one
verse speaks of expulsion (34:11), but it is t o be carried out by the Lord not by Israel
(contrast Exod. 23:21-33, . . . ). On the contrary, the fact that the
Israelites are forbidden to partake of their sacrifices and to intermarry with them (34:1516),
is a clear indication that, according to J, the inhabitants of Canaan will remain.
this injunction is addressed solely t o the Israelites, as is the entire Covenant
Code (cf. , Exod. 22:2 2) and thus cannot refer t o the residents of
Canaan. Clearly, as M. Greenberg has pointed out,
the hand of the Deu-
teronomist has been at work. He has taken the expulsion law of Exod.
23:20-33, directed against the inhabitants of Canaan and the herem law of
Exod. 22:19, directed against the individual Israelite and fused them into
a new law, wherein herem is applied t o all idolators, Israelites (cf. Deut.
13:13-19) and non-Israelites alike, as well as their sancta (Deut. 7:5, 25-26).
In any case, it should be noted that both Exodus laws from which the Deu-
teronomist spins his midrash are attributed t o E.
The Deuteronomist, however, would never admit that his law is innova-
tive. T o the contrary, he says , "as the Lord your God
commanded you" (Deut. 20:17), implying that his herem is based on an
unambiguous and unimpeachable source. True, as indicated, this source is
nowhere in Scripture. Nonetheless, there is evidence that at least once in
Israel's history D' s herem against the Canaanites was actually invoked. Let
us first bear in mind D' s definition of herem: the population is destroyed as
well as its cult objects, but its cities and property may be expropriated as
spoils (Deut. 6:11). Now it is true that this is precisely the kind of herem
that Joshua frequently carried out in his conquests. It was imposed on
Makkedah, Libnah, Lachish, Eglon, Debir, and other towns both in the south
and the north (Josh. 10:28-40; 11:10-20). However, the possibility must
be reckoned with that the Deuteronomist has rewritten the record of the
conquest that it may conform t o the deuteronomic herem, a possibility which
is enhanced when we notice that the execution of herem continues with our
formula , "as the Lord commanded" (e.g., Josh. 10:40; 11:12,
15, 20) .
2 3
Then too, every example of herem which stems from an indis-
putably non-deuteronomic source actually differs with D' s conception, e.g.,
Arad (Num. 2 1:1-9) and Jericho (Josh. 6:17-19) are subject t o total herem;
Ai and Hazor are burned (Josh. 8:2, 28; 11:11-13).
Does this then mean
(2 2) Encyclopaedia Judaica (1972), s.v. Herem, pp. 348 f.
(23) The Deuteronomist takes pains to explain any deviation from this rule, e.g., the
burning of Hazor, Josh. 11:11-13.
(24) Greenberg, op. cit. (. 2 2, above), 347, 349 claims that D revised the account
of the conquests of Sihon and Og to accommodate the herem law (Deut. 2:32-35; 3:6-7;
contrast Num. 21:24, 35) However, both accounts are ambiguous in regard to the scope
of the fyerem. Num. 32:24, 34-38 implies that the conquered cities are destroyed (despite
Num. 21:24, 35)
a n
d Deut. 3:19 implies that these cities were not destroyed (despite
Deut. 2:34; 3:6). Thus these sources contradict themselves as well as each other and,
hence, cannot be cited as evidence.
D' s herem is indeed a midrash, "a tenditious revision of history"
and that
his claim of is a fiction?
I submit that there is one clear historical precedent for D' s herem: Saul
and the Gibeonites. The record is unambiguous that Saul attempted t o ex-
terminate the Gibeonites (I Sam. 2 1:1). That some Gibeonites succeeded in
escaping t o Gath (II Sam. 4:3) underscores the fact that their only haven
was in non-Israelite territory outside of Saul's jurisdiction. It is also recorded
that Saul confiscated their real property and divided it among his fellow
Benjaminite officers (I Sam. 22:7). Thus Saul's campaign against the Gibeo-
nites follows the precise rules of D' s herem. the extermination and despoliation
of the inhabitants of Canaan. That Saul's motives were primarily religious
and not economic (though the force of the latter should not be discounted)
is clear when viewed against the total picture of Saul's personality and
program, e.g., he stamps out illegitimate divination (I Sam. 28:3, 9), purifies
the cult (I Sam. 14:3 2-3 5)
2 6
and resorts t o prophetic ecstasy (I Sam.
10:10-12; 19:23-24). Indeed, the text itself labels his persecution of the
Gibeonites by the root , implying religious fanaticism. Thus it is hardly
likely that a God-fearing king would have undertaken the genocide of the
Gibeonites unless he felt compelled t o do so by divine imperative.
True, Saul is twice portrayed as a rebel against the Lord (I Sam. 13:13;
15:9 ff.). But these texts stem from a Davidide, i.e., anti-Saulide author. The
former text probably mirrors Samuel's attempt t o contain Saul's desire t o
officiate at national sacrifices, a royal prerogative attested for later kings
(e.g., I Kings 8:63-64; II Kings 16:15b) and the latter text may in fact
be an example of Saul's obedience t o God and not his rebelliousness. For it
should be remembered that herem-animals fit for the altar need not be put
t o the sword but may be sacrificed; indeed, according t o the Priestly Code
they must be sacrificed (Lev. 27:28; Num. 18:14; cf. Ezek. 44:29). The
fact that Samuel does not accuse Saul of sparing Agag and actually slaughters
Agag as a sacrifice ( , I Sam. 15:33),
s 0 m
keeping with the Priestly
law of herem (Lev. 27:29), is an indication that this is probably what Saul
intended t o carry out himself. Thus Saul's assertion that ,
" I have fulfilled the Lord's command" (I Sam. 15:13) can be fully justified
(25) Ibid.., 349.
(26) Saul constructs a makeshift altar either to prevent profane slaughter or worship
of autochthonous deities, cf. J. M. Grintz, op. cit. (. 3, above).
(27) This would imply that Saul did not recognize the validity or, more likely, the
existence of the protective oath which the Gibeonites obtained deceitfully from Joshua.
and it is only the Tendenz of the anti-Saulide writer who misrepresents his
valid execution of the herem as an act of heresy.
In summation, Saul's campaign against the Gibeonites takes on meaning
only by assuming that the type of herem projected by D was an old and ac-
cepted tradition and that, consequently, the herem against most of the cap-
tured towns of Canaan which the Deuteronomist reports is substantially
cottect. Thus even though D' s herem is not found as law in earlier sources,
its verification in the case of Saul and the Gibeonites validates D' s claim of
The source common t o all the deuteronomic references t o the conquest
mentioned above (items 5-6) is Exod. 23:20-33, generally attributed t o E.
True, in recent years, some scholars have averred that this Exodus pericope
had undergone a deuteronomic redaction.
However, they may not have
observed that it differs irreconcilably with D' s views on the conquest. First,
the mediation of the angel (Exod. 23:20-23) is absent in D, and clearly the
omission is deliberate.
If Exod. 23:20-33 were reworked by a Deuter-
onomist, would he have abstained from expunging the angel from the text?
Secondly, as noted, the notion of hrem is peculiar t o D. Again, how could a
deuteronomic editor have remained content with an edict of expulsion? Would
he not perforce have interpolated the specific herem instructions t o destroy
the inhabitants, burn their gods, and ban their sancta (cf. Deut. 7:24-26;
20:16-17)? Thus the allegation of deuteronomic interpolation in Exod.
23:20-33 must be denied and the correspondencies between the t wo sources
can only be one-directional: D borrowing from E.
Summing up at this point: we have found that 21 of 32 occurrences of D' s
formula / / fall into the following categories: fertility
of seed and soil (6), the Decalogue (2), the Covenant Code (3), the con-
quest (5), Israel's characteristics (2), the wilderness chronology (2) and
hrem (1). Their common denominator is that they lead back t o a source in E,
and in 16 occurrences they do so exclusively.
5. The References to P. E is not the only source uncovered by our formula,
though it is the major one. In six instances, the formula points t o P: (1) Malig-
nant Skin Disease. "I n cases of a malignant skin disease be most careful t o do
exactly as the levitical priests instruct you. Take care t o do , as
(28) Most recently, Childs, op. cit. (. 13, above), 460 f.
(29) Cf. A. Rofe, Israelite Belief in Angels in the Pre-Exilic Period as Evidenced by
Biblical Traditions (Hebrew Univ. dissertation, 1969), 289-297 (Heb.); Weinfeld, op. cit.
(. io, above), 34
I have commanded them" (Deut. 24:8). Unquestionably, the reference is t o
Lev. chs. 13-14 which contain diagnostic tests for skin disease. Moreover,
these chapters are themselves unique within the code, for they are the
only laws which, though they concern the Israelites, are addressed solely t o
the Priests.
D affirms this fact by insisting that skin diseases fall under the
sole jurisdiction of the priests, thus confirming D' s dependency on P.
(2) The Covenantal Relationship. " To the end that He may establish you
this day as His people and be your God ,
as He promised you and as He swore t o your fathers" (Deut. 29:12). The
reciprocal relation of God and Israel is one of the hallmarks of the covenant
in P. It is found again in Gen. 17:7
;8 Exod. 6:7; Lev. 26:12; and partially
in Exod. 29:45; Lev. 11:45;
2 2 :
33; 25:28; 26:45; Num. 15:41all P.
3 2
That the formula appears twice in this verse is not because it is a redundancy
or rhetorical flourish. Once it is realized that it stems from P, the duplication
becomes logical and essential. For only proclaims that the reciprocal rela-
tionship was promised both " t o your fathers" (Gen. 17:7-8) and " t o you"
(Exod. 6:7), and it is this doubly given promise which is emphasized by
our text.
This covenantal relationship is stated once again in D: "You have affirmed
this day that the Lord is your God . . . and the Lord has affirmed this day
that you are his treasured people , as He promised you" (Deut.
26:17-18). Y. Muffs has correctly noted an alteration made by D: whereas
in P, the initiative is taken by the Lord, i.e., it is He who takes Israel as His
people (e.g., Exod. 6:7), in D, it is Israel who affirms that the Lord is its
The hand of D is revealed in yet another change. It awards Israel
with the attribute , "treasure," a clear animadversion of the E passage,
"you shall be my " (Exod. 19:5). Thus D has fused the covenant tradi-
tions of both and E into his own formulation.
(30) Lev. 6:1-7:10; 10:8-11; 2 1:1-22:16 also address only the priests, but their
content concerns only the priests. All other laws of concern the Israelites and are ad-
dressed to them (cf. Lev. 1:2; 4:2; 7:28; 11:2; 12:2; 15:2 etc.).
(31) Since Israel is only a in Genesis (it is called in Exod. 1:8; 3:7), the rela-
tionship of Israel t o God in Gen. 17:7-8 can only be hinted at.
(32) Outside the Pentateuch the full relationship is found in II Sam. 7:24 ( = 1 Chron.
17:22); Jer. 7:23; 11:4; 24:7; 30:22; Ezek. 11:20; 14:11; 36:28; 37:23, 27; Zech. 8:8.
That it predominates in Jeremiah and Ezekiel is not surprising, Jeremiah being influenced
by D and Ezekiel by both and D.
(33) Y. Muffs, "Covenantal Traditions in Deuteronomy/' Lectures at the Jewish
Theological Seminary, 1965.
(34) That P' s covenantal formula is pre-exilic is clearly shown by its citation in
(3) The Levitic Prebends. The rationale for the levitic prebends is found
twice in D and both times it is affixed with our formula: "that is why the
Levites have received no hereditary share along with their kinsmen: the
Lord is their portion, , as the Lord your God promised t hem"
(Deut. 10:9); "and (the Levites) shall have no portion among their brother
tribes: the Lord is their portion, , as He promised t hem"
(Deut. 18:2).
Both deuteronomic passages thus claim that there was a divine promise
that "t he Lord is their portion." But where is its source? T o be sure,
avers that the Levites will not be assigned any territorial portion (Num.
18:24). However, only the priests are explicitly told, " I am your portion"
(Num. 18:20). It may be objected that this nuance is too finely drawn, for
since the tithes are considered by as the Lord' s property which he bestows
upon the Levites (Num. 18:24),
hen it is as if the Lord is the Levites' portion
too. However, the status of the Levites is so polarically different in and
D that it is inconceivable that one could have influenced the other. On the
one hand, D maintains: " The levitical priests, the whole tribe of Levi, . . . shall
live off , the food offerings
of the Lord, as their portion" (Deut. 18:1),
i.e. D acknowledges the rights of all Levites t o officiate in the central sane-
tuary (cf. 18:6) and thereby benefit from the sacrificial prebends. Thus
despite D' s admission that the existence of a single sanctuary precludes the
,possibility of every Levite becoming a priest, it nonetheless proclaims the
theoretical right of every Levite t o become one. P, on the other hand,
separates the Levite from the priest by an unbridgeable chasm: Levites may
never officiate at the altar
or benefit from its sacrifices. Hence, is in-
trinsically incapable of admitting t o the notion that the Lord is the Levites'
Is D' s difference with accidental or deliberate? The answer, I believe,
is contained in the opening words of the pericope on the levitic prebends:
" The levitical priests, the whole tribe of Levi . . . " (Deut. 18:1). These
words have a polemical thrust. D is saying: do not think that only those
Zech. 8:8, "They shall be My people and I will be their God, in truth and justice," i.e.,
God will assure the realization of the ancient promise only if Israel lives in truth and justice.
(35) Wi t h NEB, following J. Hoftijzer, "Das sogenannte Feueropfer," VT.S 16
(1967), 114-134 and G. R. Driver, "Ugaritic and Hebrew Words," Ugaritica VI (1969),
(36) Cf. Num. 18:3 and J. Milgrom, Studies in Levitical Terminology (Univ. of Cali-
fornia, Berkeley, 1970), 16-18.
Levites who are presently officiating as priests in the central sanctuary can
benefit from the sacrificial prebends; all Levites are eligible.
Against whom
is this polemic directed? Since alone maintains that Levites may not benefit
from the altar, it may be concluded that in this verse D shows its awareness
of and opposition t o P' s discrimination against the Levites.
Wa s known t o D as an oral tradition or as a written code? A precise
answer cannot be given. There can be no doubt that D knows many of P' s
laws. As noted, D is aware of P' s rule on skin diseases (Deut. 24:8). Also,
the isolated verse: "You shall not sacrifice t o the Lord your God an ox or a
sheep that has any defect of a serious kind" (Deut. 17:1) seems t o posit P' s
laws of sacrifices (cf. Lev. chs. 1-7; 2 2 etc.). Moreover, the judicial role of
the priest is not only acknowledged by D but even expanded.
Thus D is
certainly cognizant of the content of P, but not necessarily of the language
of P. Indeed there is one law, that of the forbidden birds, where it has been
shown that D has reworked a text.
However, the counterargument may
be offered that D' s food prohibitions were added by a post-exilic editor
after had crystallized into its present form. Now, however, the recovery of
D' s sources adds a new argument t o the debate.
That D indicates its sources
by a formula means that it takes for granted that they are well known t o the
reader. Though, it may be argued, God' s commands, promises, and oaths
could have been handed down orally, it is more likely that the accuracy of
God' s ipsissima verba, particularly His laws, would not have been left t o
the vagaries of memory, but would have been written down. Thus the likeli-
hood exists that the E and cited by D existed in written form. In any event,
(37) Wi t h J. Emerton, "Priests and Levites in Deuteronomy" VT 12 (1962), 129-138
versus G. E. Wright, "The Levites in Deuteronomy," VT 4 (1954), 325-330.
(38) Another instance of D' s opposition to is its insistence that the blood issuing
from profane slaughter must be "poured out on the ground like water" (12:16, 24; 15:23).
This is in open opposition to P' s demand that the blood (of game) be covered with earth
(Lev. 17:13); cf. J. Milgrom, " A Prolegomenon to Leviticus 17:11, JBL 90 (1971),
156, n. 32.
(39) Cf. J. Milgrom, "The Alleged Demythologization and Secularization in Deuter-
onomy," IE J 23 (1973), 159-161. That the priestly prebends of Deut. 18:3 may be supple-
mentary to those of P, see idem, "The t
np," Shazar Jubilee Volume (Jerusalem, 1973),
142, n. 18 (Heb.).
(40) Cf. W. L. Moran, "The Literary Connection Between Lev 11, 13-19 and Dt 14,
12-18," CBQ 28 (1966), 271-277.
(41) This is precisely how S. R. Driver argues concerning the patent form of
Deut. 1:9aa, Deuteronomy ICC (New York, 1895), ad loc.
it may be held for certain that much of the content of E and indeed was
6. The Difference Between and . As we have seen that D' s formula
/ / refers t o its sources in E and P, there can remain
no doubt that the remaining instance of the formula . . .
(Deut. 12:2 1) signifies that profane slaughter must follow the same method
practised in sacrificial slaughter. Indeed, this is precisely how the Tannaim
interpret this verse (Sifre on Deut. 12:21). But if the formula indicates that D
relied upon a source, we search for it in vain. The plethora and minutiae of
P' s sacrificial laws contain not one hint concerning a proper technique for
slaughtering. This glaring omission compels D. Z. Hoffmann
t o endorse
the view of Rabbi Judah (Sifre on Deut. 12:2 1; baraita Hullin 2 8a) that it
was an oral tradition. This solution is certainly possible, since, as demon-
strated above, this is the case with D' s law of herem. However, I believe
that there is textual evidence that has been overlookedthe verb .
The most significant fact about is that it is P' s exclusive term for animal
slaughter. is found 79 times in Scripture, 40 of which are in and 13
more in writings dependent on P, t o wit: 4 times in Ezekiel, chs. 40-48
(40:39, 41, 42; 44:11) and 9 times in II Chronicles (29:22(3], 24; 30:15, 17;
35: , 6, 11). Outside of it is found 3 times in connection with the paschal
sacrifice (Exod. 12:2 1; 34:25; Ezra 6:20); 7 times in a cultic context (Gen.
22:10; I Sam. 1:25; 14:32, 34[2]; 22:13; Isa. 66:3; Hos. 5:2); 3 times in
regard t o human sacrifice (Isa. 57:5; Ezek. 16:21; 23:39) and 10 times in
regard t o mass human slaughter (Num. 14:16; Judg. 12:6; 1 Kings 18:40;
II Kings 10:7, 14; Jer. 39:6[2]; 41:7; 52:[2]). Thus the spectrum of
is congruent with in that both designate sacrificial slaughter and, in
metaphoric usage, the mass slaughter of persons.
The lexicographical question is obvious: why does refrain from using
, employing exclusively ? The answer lies in the restricted applica-
tion of in : it is found only in connection with the zebah sacrifice; hence,
it cannot denote the slaughter of other sacrifices. Indeed, is reluctant t o
use the verb even with the zebah (the sole exception is Lev. 9:4; con-
(42) Additional evidence can be mustered: 1) D' s pericope on the forbidden foods
and its rationale of holiness (14:3-20) are a summary of Lev. 11:3-23; 2) D' s law of
asylum (19:1-13) presupposes Num. 35:9-34; 3) The law of testimony, limited to
homicide in (Num. 35:30), is extended t o every court proceeding in D (17:6; 19:15).
(43) Op. cit. (. 5, above), ad loc.
trast v. 18) but prefers (Lev. 3:1, 3; 7:11-18, 29, 33 etc.). T o be
sure, the Holiness source ( H) , entwined with material in Lev. chs. 17-26,
prefers the verb . (Lev. 17:5[2], 7; 19:5(2]; 22:29). However, the spe-
cific meaning of in is not "slaughter" but "offer the zebah" i.e. it
refers t o the entire sacrificial procedure, including slaughter (this also holds
true for P; contrast , Lev. 9: 4 with v. 18). Indeed, when wishes
t o specify "slaughter," it also resorts t o (Lev. 22:28, and cf. v. 29).
Thus in all of ( included) means "offer the zebah" leaving as
the exclusive term for slaughter.
Is capable of greater precision? I believe it means "slit the throat."
Such is the meaning of Arabic More importantly, the noun Jap**.*
means "throat. "
Indirect evidence is also supplied by cognate languages.
Akkadian for animal slaughter is tabhu but "cut the throat" can only be
expressed literally, as naksu napistam. Akkadian, then, has no single word
for this concept. Ugaritic has t wo verbs for slaughter dbh and tb]}\ the
former, as shown above, connotes sacred slaughter and the latter, it can be
shown, connotes profane slaughter: 4(51] 6.40; 6[62] 1.18-28; 22.2[124] 12;
16.6[127] 17.20; 3i o[II53] 3-5; 1[
NT.X] 4.30; 17 [2 AQHT] 2.29.
Neither term however, is limited t o the meaning "cut the throat." In Hebrew,
likewise, and connote, respectively, sacred and profane slaughter:
, as demonstrated above and , by the following: Gen. 43:16; Exod.
21:32; Deut. 28:31; I Sam. 25:11; Isa. 53:7; Jer. 11:19;
1 2
: 3; 50:27, 40;
Ps. 44:23; Prov. 7:22; 9:2. Significantly, only Hebrew has a third term for
. Thus Hebrew would seem t o contain t wo identical words
for sacred slaughter, and unless the latter had a more restricted,
technical meaning which may be slaughtering by cutting the throat.
Rabbinic evidence, also by indirect inference, points t o the same conclusion.
(44) Wi t h . H. Snaith," zbah and shat" VT 25 (1975), 242-246. The root appears
indigenous to Arabic for, as my colleague Prof. A. Bloch informs me, were it a loan word
from Aramaic, the s would have been preserved.
(45) Ug. tbh as Heb. can also mean "cook" (meat), e.g. 15[128] 4.4, 15; 5.1;
I Sam. 9:23 f.
(46) Except for Arabic, as noted, this root has other connotations in the cognate
languages: in Akk. saifu means "flay" and in Ug. sht means "smash," cf. 18 [3 AQHT]
4.24, 35. Snaith, op. cit. (. 44, above), 245, argues that Ug. sfa (heavy tt) coalesced
with Heb. but the meaning "smash" is still apparent in the expressions ,
"beaten gold" (I Kings 10:16f. [II Chron. 9:15 f.]) and , "sharpened arrows"
(Jer. 9:7).
(47) In P, as observed above, also developed the special meaning "offer the zebah".
Jewish tradition has always interpreted in this manner (cf. i^ullin 27a;
Nachmanides on Deut. 12:21). Moreover, that the Mishna states anony-
mously and categorically , "all may
slaughter (ritually) at any time and with any implement" (M.IJullin 1:2),
foregoing any discussion concerning the method of slaughter, is clear evidence
that the slaughtering method was already fixed by tradition and may stem
from biblical times. Our formula now adds greater force t o this argument:
. . . , "you may slaughter . . . as I commanded you" (Deut.
12:21). D therefore implies that there is a specific method of slaughtering
sacrificial animals which is t o be followed in profane slaughter,
a method
which, I suggest, may be implied by , "slit the throat. "
7. The Origin of Profane Slaughter: D or Hosea? One final question: Is
blanket permission for profane slaughter the innovation of D. as heretofore
claimed by the critics? An alternative answer is made possible by the con-
vincing demonstration of H. L. Ginsberg that D has been markedly influenced
by the language and ideas of the prophet Hosea, an example of which is the
similarity of Hosea's , "let them slaughter and eat meat"
(Hos. 8:13 cf. v. 11) t o D' s , "you may slaughter and eat
meat" (Deut. 12:15).
Ginsberg's observation can now be strengthened by
Jeremiah's strikingly similar demand, ( ),
"(Add your burnt offerings to) your zebah-offzv'mgs and eat meat" (Jer.
7:21), quoting the very words of Hosea and D, both of which, all ac-
knowledge, influenced Jeremiah profoundly.
(48) There is no proof, however, that the rabbinic technique of ritual slaughter, i.e. a
clean, transverse cut of both the oesophagus and the trachea so that all the main blood
vessels are severed (cf. Sifre on Deut. 12:22; M. Hullin 2:4), stems from biblical times.
(49) The absence of # in Deut. 12, 15, 2 1 and indeed, in all of D, is probably due
to D' s ignorance of its technical meaning as developed by P. Similarly, D ignores (or does
not know) P' s technical term for the ritual aspersion of the blood on the altar (e.g.,
Lev. 1:5, 11; 3:2, 8, 13) and instead uses 12:27) #) which in P, however, is not a
sacral act but, to the contrary, refers to the discarding of the blood (e.g., Lev. 4:7, 15,
25, 30, 34; 17:13): cf. J. Milgrom, op. cit. (. 38, above), 153, . 19.
(5) Mentioned during a public lecture at the University of California, Berkeley,
April 1974. See tentatively Ginsberg's "Hosea," Encyclopaedia Judaica; cf. also Weinfeld,
op. cit. (n. io, above), Appendix .
(51) There is, of course, a difference in their respective demands. Jeremiah, as the
heir (and proponent) of the deuteronomic reform needs not press for profane slaughter.
He demands that the burnt offering be desanctified as was the zebah so that it too could
provide meat for the table.
8. Support for a Northern Origin for D. Thus it would seem that the
cultic syncretism and moral decadence prevailing at the bamot of the North
during the eighth century (cf. Hos. 4:1-14) gave rise, especially among
prophetic circles, t o the radical solution that the bamot be abrogated and,
concomitantly, that the profane slaughter of the zebah (i.e., meat for the
worshipper's table) be allowed. This supposition takes on added force in
conjunction with the view that the core of D, especially the doctrine of a
central sanctuary, had its birth in the Nort h.
Further support is now pro-
vided by D' s formula / / which, as shown, in 2 1 oc-
currences, 16 of them exclusively, points t o a source in E, which, as is widely
recognized, is considered t o have northern provenience.
The transmission and growth of D may then be conjectured as follows:
It arose in the northern kingdom during the eighth century and was brought
t o Judah after the fall of Samaria where it motivated Hezekiah's cultic re-
form subsequently reversed by Manasseh. During the ensuing century, before
it became state law under Josiah, it was reworked and enriched with new
material, especially from P. On one point, however, D resisted P: it refused
t o disenfranchise the Levites. The reason can now be discerned. P, reflecting
the view of the Aaronide priests in control of Jerusalem's temple and settled
in its environs, was understandably eager t o keep the Levites at arms length
but D, stemming from the North where most Levites were in residence, t o
the contrary, demanded parity for all Levites.
In sum, the formula / / demonstrates D' s dependency
on E and P. Stemming from E are the traditions of fertility of seed and soil,
(52) Among the scholars who have championed a northern origin for D, see A. C.
Welch, The Code of Deuteronomy (Clarke: London, 1924), idem, Deuteronomy: the Frame-
1work to the Code (Oxford: London, 1932); A. Alt, "Die Heimat des Deuteronomiums,"
Kleine Schriften, II (Beck: Munich, 1959; composed 1953), 250-275; H. W. Wolff,
"Hoseas geistige Heimat," TLZ 81 (1956), 83-94; F. Dunermuth, "Zur deuteronomisches
Kulttheologie und ihre Voraussetzungen," AW 70 (1958), 70 ff. For a recent survey
and evaluation of this theory, cf. E. W. Nicholson, Deuteronomy and Tradition (Fortress:
Phila., 1967), 58-82.
(53) For a summary of this view and a bibliography, see R. E. Clements, "Deuteronomy
and the Jerusalemite Cult-tradition," VT 15 (1965), 305; E. Sellin-G. Fohrer, Introduction
to the Old Testament (Abingdon: Nashville, 1968), 158.
(54) Is it accidental that the levitical cities of Josh. ch. 2 1 are located in the North
whereas those of the Aaronide priests are concentrated in the South? The probability that
D originates in the North thus gives new support for the historicity of Josh. ch. 21 for,
then, the very source which demands parity for the Levites would stem from that part of
the land where most of the Levites lived. For a recent review of the problem of the levitical
cities and a bibliography, cf. J. A. Soggin, Joshua, OTL (SCM: London, 1972), 201-206.
the Decalogue, the Covenant Code, the conquest, Israel's designation as holy
and treasured, the wilderness narrative, and possibly herem, whereas malig-
nant skin disease, the reciprocal covenantal relationship (amended by D) and
the levitic status (opposed by D) stem from P. D' s linkage t o E, reinforced
by its Hoseanic legacy, points t o its origin in Northern Israel during the
eighth century while its linkage t o points t o its subsequent expansion in
Judah during the seventh century. The specific instance of the formula in
Deut. 12:21 furnishes evidence that the slaughter of sacrificial animals was
performed according t o an established technique, one that possibly is pre-
sumed by P' s term .
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