Sunday, March 8, 2015

Some Preliminary Notes on the 'Eesh Hypothesis'

  1. the ancients were divided on the question of 'who wrote what' in the Bible.  The Samaritans probably represent the original understanding that only the Ten Commandments came from heaven.  In other words, the Pentateuch itself was less than divine having been written by a human being - either Moses or 'the narrator' (mudawwin) of the early Karaite tradition.
  2. the second century heretics who identified 'only the ten commandments' as being from heaven (against the rabbinic understanding that the entire written Torah was from received by Moses from the divinity) were undoubtedly one and the same with "those" who argued from the book of Deuteronomy "that there are two powers in heaven."
  3. why the heretical interest in Deuteronomy?  For one, Deuteronomy is the only one of the five books which make it clear that Moses placed only the ten commandments in the tabernacle - the Torah from heaven (cf. Jean-Pierre Sonnet, the Book Within the Book: Writing in Deuteronomy p. 138f).  Indeed it is only in Deuteronomy that Moses's writing is made explicit.  Sonnet's interpretation is the Samaritan reading of the text. 
  4. Deuteronomy makes explicit that there were two powers - one on the earth 'in the fire' on Sinai and another speaking from heaven.  Exodus seems to be aware of this understanding and goes out of its way to deny the implications of that situation.  This is only one of many contradictions which are worth noting.
  5. In Deuteronomy 1:9 - 13 the plan to appoint judges comes from Moses because he can't keep up with the case load, the people agree and then Moses selects the judges; in Exodus 18:13 - 26 it comes from Moses's father in law Jethro (which is very odd in itself) no mention is made of the difficulties of Moses, no consultation with the people
  6. Moses's goings up and down the mountain, when he fasted, when he interceded on behalf of the people do not agree with one another.  
  7. in Exodus Moses commissions Bezalel to make the ark of the covenant after he returns with the Torah tablets, in Deuteronomy it precedes that visit.  
  8. It isn't possible to view this as two independent accounts of an actual historical event but rather one must necessarily represent the correction of the other.  

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