The chosen place
This is a continuation of this thread. I didn’t want to allow it to further detract from @Hannah’s original post, since Alex and I were veering significantly off topic. Here’s where the discussion left off:
No. This is where you are very very wrong.
While I agree that the Tabernacle will be in Cannan, I disagree that it is not going to move around. My understanding that once in Canaan, the Tabernacle would move from tribe to tribe. There is nothing difficult about this, especially if we account for the communications and logistics technology that we already have today.
The sources you cite to support SP position are not primary sources. You cite either translations or vorlage, none of which is a primary source. The only primary sources we have are SP and MT, and maybe DSS to some extent. So we have to go with what we have.
So the only way to resolve this issue is to use logic, and logic dictates that since the Tabernacle was mobile, the reading should be "shall choose" because this is what is being implied by the mobility of the Tabernacle.
Exodus 15:17 talks about Hebrews, not Tabernacle. The verse says that God will establish them (Hebrews) in the land of his sanctuary (Tabernacle). This verse most certainly does not imply that the Tabernacle will stay in one particular place forever. In Cannan - maybe, in one place - absolutely not.
We even have an example in the Torah when Tabernacle articles sent into a battle.
And yes, feel free to start a new thread...
I choose not to tell someone they’re wrong. I present what I see from the scriptures and manuscript evidence, knowing that my viewpoint is subject to change if better evidence is brought forth. I am not married to my current viewpoint, but the evidence points me there. It will take good evidence to steer me in a different direction, and I’m just not seeing it so far.
I find that many people are stuck in a viewpoint because they’ve built other conclusions on them, and to change the root viewpoint would invalidate many of those secondary, tertiary, etc. conclusions. I try constantly to avoid getting into that sort of situation, and I think that has allowed me to be as objective as possible when I study and research.
That said, strong evidence cannot be ignored, so I am open to it all.
So, to address your latest points:
No, copies of the Septuagint (LXX) are not primary sources. Even the original LXX wouldn’t be a primary source, being a Greek translation. However, what it CAN do is help us understand the evolution of the texts. The Torah of the Septuagint was translated into Greek, by Jews, somewhere between 300 and 123 BCE, and is known to be a good translation, unlike the rest of the Tanakh which was translated 200-300 years later, by whom we don’t know, and is rather sloppy in comparison.
If you are translating from sources in 300 BCE, your source manuscripts are undoubtedly older than what the Masoretes had access to in the 6th-10th centuries CE, especially with all of the war, upheaval and exile of the early centuries CE. There is up to a 900 year old gap there between the LXX and MT sources, perhaps more if one considers it was likely easier to obtain older manuscripts in the time of the LXX translation than in the time of the Masoretes.
Where the SP differs from the MT in roughly 3,000 places other than minor orthography, it agrees with the LXX in 1,900 of those places. This paints a picture, for me, of the SP as likely oldest, followed by the vorlage from which the LXX was translated, followed by the MT.
I see absolutely no reason NOT to understand that preservation of “has chosen” in many translations from sources older than the MT indicates a strong possibility that was the original reading. I do not think the evidence supports the other direction, i.e. that the Samaritans edited their Torah and changed “will choose” to “has chosen”.
In fact, the Masoretes admitted that they had received corrupted texts, and the text they did receive wasn’t even written using the original alphabet! They simply preserved the corrupted texts they received. On the other hand, the Samaritans never changed the alphabet. Further, the Jews by their own admission made specific, purposeful changes to the text well before the Masoretes began their work. All of the known evidence seems to point to Judean edits, not the other way around.
This is not to say that I believe the SP is without error. Scribal error has likely resulted in issues there as well. However, I do believe it can be determined in certain cases that the SP has the original reading, particularly when it is preserved in other pre-Masorete translations. The one area where I don’t claim such confidence is the SP’s 10th commandment, which I have no information of existing in any other manuscript. Despite that, the curios altar language of Exodus 20:24-26 leads me to believe it’s not impossible that it is original as well.
Regarding Exodus 15:17, let me quote it again:
You will bring them in and plant them in the mountain of your inheritance, in the place you made for your residence, O YHWH, the sanctuary, O Adonai, that your hands have established.
Yes, this is speaking of the Hebrews entering the land, but the “mountain of your inheritance” refers to the place YHWH made for his residence, the sanctuary his hands have established. How do you account for “makon” being used for place? It is significant that this is the ONLY time this particular word, which means “fixed or established place, foundation” is ever used in the Torah. That does not suggest portability to me at all.
We know that YHWH doesn’t “need” a physical place in which to live. This is not his literal house, without which he is homeless. This is simply a chosen place where he “dwells” with (I think of it as “interfaces with”) mankind. It just so happens that Jacob has named this place “Beit El” (House of God) in times past, and all of the forefathers knew how special this place was. It is to where Abram was first called and promised the land for his descendants, where Jacob was again promised the land and named it the literal House of God (dovetailing very nicely with Exodus 15:17 and Deuteronomy calling it his residence as well.)
The Israelites were not being awarded some new land—they were returning HOME, to the place Jacob and his family lived, where they owned land. The Shechem area was the epicenter of this land.
The Israelites transitioned from a nomadic lifestyle to more permanence, and I believe the sanctuary did as well. In fact, if you believe the tabernacle traveled around from place to place, you end up lending more credence to some of the silliness in the rest of Tanakh such as Samuel wandering from town to town and sacrificing at the high places (a violation of Torah) in 1 Sam 9, or of YHWH himself supposedly telling Samuel to sacrifice in Bethlehem in 1 Sam 16.
These breaches of Torah might be argued to be sensible if 1) it was common for the tabernacle to move around, and 2) there was no more tabernacle (as has been suggested to me by a popular Hebrew scholar who suggests it was destroyed) after the Philistines captured the ark. (This presents a problem though because the tabernacle appears later in Nob and Gibeon, even Gilgal again I think.
Let’s say the tabernacle did in fact reside in Shiloh. Personally I think the Samaritan story is more reasonable, being that Eli couldn’t attain the priesthood he wanted, being from the disfavored line of Itamar, and so established his own counterfeit tabernacle and priesthood in Shiloh. This seems reasonable to me because Samuel was Eli’s protegé, and we know for a fact that Samuel was up to no good based on the aforementioned issues and more.
But lets say the genuine tabernacle was there in Shiloh. Why would YHWH have allowed it to be (possibly) destroyed by the Phillistines if it was the genuine article? Why would he have allowed the Phillistines to parade the Ark of the Covenant around like a spoil of war without any consequence but eventual hemmorhoids? That whole Shiloh narrative rings very false to my ears.
Anyway, like I said I am not going to insist that I am right, nor that anyone else is wrong. This is simply the way I see it based on the text and manuscript evidence.
And to add one more bit of evidence, consider this from Psalm 78:
He rejected the tent of Joseph; he did not choose the tribe of Ephraim. He chose the tribe of Judah, and Mount Zion, which he loves. He made his sanctuary as enduring as the heavens above; as secure as the earth, which he established permanently. (Psalm 78:67-69)
Now if there was only a single tent, it would have simply been replaced by the temple. There would be absolutely no reason to speak of a tent being rejected, much less a tent belonging to Joseph. This only makes sense if there were in fact two tents, the original at Mount Gerizim and associated with Joseph (northern kingdom), and a duplicate that became Judah's (southern kingdom) tent.
Earlier in Psalms 78, verse 60, it is said that YHWH rejected the tent in Shiloh. If this was the tent of Joseph, was the tent later at Gibeon the Judean tent, something different? Obviously if the tent was rejected while at Shiloh, if it was mentioned in other places after Shiloh it was either a different tent, or wasn't valid. Apparently after Shiloh it was in Gilgal, Nob, and Gibeon where it supposedly remained until the temple. The point I'm raising is that none of this makes sense, but there IS this idea that a tent was rejected, and if that tent belonged to Joseph (in the eyes of the psalmist) there must have been another belonging to Judah.
This lends additional credence to the Samaritan story, IMO. Presently I believe the Shiloh stuff in the book of Joshua is a Judean edit, and that the original tent remained on Mount Gerizim. The reason for this being that I see the chosen place as being a single geographic place, not movable, and the presence of the ark on Gerizim in Joshua 8 when sacrifices were made, as well as the sanctuary in the Shechem area in Joshua 24, suggest to me that the Shiloh references in between are likely bogus or altered.
I said you are wrong because I have a good reason to believe so. I figured I would be honest instead of politically correct. I am glad that you do not take it personally because it was not my intent to insult you or anything like that.
To address some of your points...
While I agree that translations can be helpful in determining the original readings, they are still translations so we can't be 100% sure. So I absolutely reject such approach and I prefer not to use translations at all. This way many false assumptions can be avoided.
I already explained to you my position on SP and MT so I am not sure what else I can add.
Regarding Exodus 15:17, the "mountain of your inheritance" refers to Canaan. The meaning here is allegorical.
And as far as the word "מכון"...most likely it is a deliberate edit to justify the temple, especially considering the fact that this word does not occur anywhere else in the Torah.
For example, Kennicot Vetus Testamentum shows "נכון" as a variant reading, which is more consistent with the passage and other verses in the Torah.
It is also possible that the spelling was "מקום", which would also be more consistent with the passage and the rest of the Torah.
Regardless, you can't just take one word from allegorical passages that Song of the Sea is and claim that it overrides many other passages in the Torah which explicitly state that the Tabernacle is mobile and moves from place to place.
Sorry. I completely disagree with you and I think you are trying to justify the temple for some reason.
Why do you want the Tabernacle to stay in one place? What would be the point?
I told you that you can argue that Tabernacle would stay in Canaan, but you can't argue that it is not going to move from place to place.
Also, you do not seem to understand that NK is pretty much made up crap. So you can't really mix Written Torah and NK. These are completely different books that were written in a completely different time. Not to mention that Torah was written by God Himself, so it is on a completely different level compared to NK.
So please keep our discussion Written Torah bound, ok? I do not want to discuss NK. I hope you understand.
You do know I assume that Kennicott was a defender of the Samaritan Torah, believing it to be closer to the original?
As he did, I believe it’s fairly clear it is older and therefore closer to the original. I believe Deuteronomy’s chosen place passages to have originally read “has chosen” as several extant copies of ancient manuscripts in addition to the SP attest. You may not agree, and as such we may simply need to agree to disagree, but if indeed “has chosen” is the original, then there is no good cause to read any sort of mobility into it.
Exodus 15:17 for me simply serves as an expression of this chosen place outside of Deuteronomy with the same sense of a place that has already been chosen and established before the Israelites set foot in the land. I don’t see in it a euphemistic reference to the entire land, unless the entirety of the land can be a miqdash, in which case why does it matter where you sacrifice or feast because you are always in the YHWH’s sanctuary?
Anyway, for me it’s not driven by a desire or need to hold onto this idea. Rather, this idea represented a fairly significant change for me from my previous understanding. It was driven by the fact that my research suggests that the Samaritan Torah has the original reading “has chosen”, which simply leaves no room for a wandering chosen place.
That’s just the way I see it. I would have to see compelling evidence against the originality of the Samaritan reading. The sum total of your argument is that the tabernacle was built to be transported, therefore the MT has the original reading. That’s not compelling evidence to me. The tabernacle needed to be portable for the journey, no doubt. The Israelite tents had to be portable as well. Does that prove that once they entered the land they too were supposed to keep wandering around living in tents?
By no means would I argue that any different or permanent structure would be authorized for the sanctuary, but likewise we don’t have anything suggesting that the tabernacle would continue moving around once they entered the land. In fact, if you look at the tabernacle’s location relative to the tribes, it was ALWAYS in the same place, centrally located. If the tribes stopped moving, so did the tabernacle, period.
I’ll leave it at that and let you have the last word. No much point really in continuing to go around in circles on this.
Yes, we will have to agree to disagree on this one.
Just think about this...
If we assume that the Tabernacle is to stay permanently at some location in Canaan, then the whole Torah structure falls apart.
We have 3 Levitical Tribes allocated specifically and purely for the transportation of the Tabernacle, where Kohathites even were to carry articles on their shoulders. This would leave commandments about the transport of the Tabernacle void and outdated which definitely isn't right.
Same goes for Silver Trumpets that would command transportation of the Tabernacle and the camp.
Same goes for Bulls and Wagons of the Tabernacle.
The idea of the Tabernacle moving in the land of Canaan was to symbolize the most righteous tribe. So for example, if the tribe of Judah would sin, the Tabernacle can move to some other tribe which is more righteous.
So I am sorry, but I completely disagree with you here.
The place he either has chosen (the way I read it) or will choose to place his name. The “chosen place”. The tabernacle would be there obviously, though it is not explicitly referenced in the pilgrimage verses:
Three times in the year you must make a pilgrim feast to me. You are to observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread; seven days you must eat bread made without yeast, as I commanded you, at the appointed time of the month of Abib, for at that time you came out of Egypt. No one may appear before me empty-handed. You are also to observe the Feast of Harvest, the firstfruits of your labors that you have sown in the field, and the Feast of Ingathering at the end of the year when you have gathered in your harvest out of the field. At three times in the year all your males will appear before the lord YHWH. (Exodus 23:14-17)
You must keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread. For seven days you must eat bread made without yeast, as I commanded you; do this at the appointed time of the month Abib, for in the month Abib you came out of Egypt. ... You must observe the Feast of Weeks - the firstfruits of the harvest of wheat - and the Feast of Ingathering at the end of the year. At three times in the year all your men must appear before the lord YHWH, the God of Israel. (Exodus 34:18, 22-23)
Three times a year all your males must appear before YHWH your God in the place he has chosen for the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the Festival of Weeks, and the Festival of Temporary Shelters; and they must not appear before him empty-handed. (Deuteronomy 16:16)