Torah Study Notes 2- 4-12

February 4, 2012

P. 443

15:27  The people are grumbling. The writers want us to be aware of the struggle for faith. Things will not come easily. ML: See verse 22 – this is repetition. Freedom does not come without a cost – and some complaints may be legitimate.

16:4  I will rain bread down from the sky. Their argument, says Moses, is with God, not with him. Also, God will get the credit for the free food.  Next week: Does Moses actually tell the people exactly what God said – or is he editing?

16:9  Here God speaks to Moses and Moses to Aaron. Is this an amalgam by the redactors of two traditions? Why have Aaron gather the people – why doesn’t Moses do it himself? Modern scholars see two narrative streams here – one designed to promote Aaron. By the time the Torah is assembled the priestly establishment was essentially Aaronite. Aaron is establishing a role is recognizing the presence of God. Note that the Book of Deuteronomy eliminates Aaron. AL: Is the wilderness a surrogate for God? PG: They will be moving toward and traveling in the wilderness. Emil Frackenheim points out that two groups can see two different realities.

16:13  Bread is here non-meat nourishment.

16:17  Let no one leave it till morning. Note that where the following day is the Sabbath they were not to be baking or boiling on that day. However, there has been no reference in the Torah to a seven day week after the creation in Genesis. Putting this into a larger Middle Eastern context – Babylonian literature refers to the lunar month and the significance of the seventh, fourteenth and twenty-eighth days. But there is still a day or two left before the new moon happens. The Mesopotamian focus was on the cycles of the moon. Israel is the first culture to have a seven day cycle. Compare: James Frasier’s work on the ten day cycle in the Horn of Africa. Our modern calendar has no relationship to lunar cycles. Janus is the two faced god who looks back at the past year and forward to the new – January.

PG: The Israelites at this time were likely an amalgam of people who were enslaved in Egypt. Their antecedents are unclear. So at this point there was little in the way of what is now considered traditional Jewish practice – except for circumcision. They continued to be herders in Egypt but details of their separate nature is unknown. There had to be a certain amount of acculturation – particularly in language and clothing. The Book of Exodus begins by raising the question of how they were distinct from the Egyptians – they preserved their names and perhaps a tradition of descent from Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  There is no description that has survived as to their ritual practices. Prior to the 19th C. there is little emphasis on uniformity within a faith – except for the battles between Catholics and Protestants. The Israelites had accommodated themselves to life in Egypt until they were asked to surrender their first born sons. Then they fell back on the one God of their ancestors. But those who “struggle with God” do not need to be descendants of Jacob. The names that were preserved are Hebrew names – but this is reference to a language not a religion. The story of religious evolution is told by looking at one family. There is no concept of a nation in the normal sense.

16:27 Note that the seventh day is God’s day off. He will not provide manna for them on the 7th day. So the people were inactive on the 7th day since there was no gathering to be done.

16:31 The reference to The Pact is anachronistic here – since it is not created until later in the Torah. Here it is a symbolic representation of the covenant between God and Israel.  The covenant with each of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob was not an eternal covenant – it was renewed each generation. And it was not with the people of Israel – they didn’t exist as a people until much later.

17:1”From the wilderness of Sin…”  Here is the “no water” part.  The people are thirsty. Take with you the rod and strike the rock of Horeb. See the same story in the Book of Numbers. “Is the Eternal present among us or not?”

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