Exodus and Leviticus: A Parallel Reading (Part VI)

The following is part of series exploring the narrative of P material and its explanation of why Nadab and Abihu are killed in Leviticus 10. Such a study is important because theology often misuses verse like Leviticus 10:1-3 to demonstrate the un-malleability and impossibility of keeping Torah, resulting in antinomianism. In order to demonstrate the true focus of Nadab and Abihu’s death, I will compare two passages of P material, Leviticus 8:1 – 10:3 and Exodus 29 – 30:10. These pericopes, with a close reading, provide a reasonable explanation for the death of Aaron’s son.

As noted in the pervious post, the trajectories go in different directions after Leviticus 8:36 and Exodus 29:37. Prior to these verses, aside from differences regarding when the altar is to be consecrated, they are quite similar. How, though, do the trajectories of the remainder of these sections relate to each other?

Milgrom notes an important relationship between Leviticus 8’s narrative and Exodus 29: “there is a good ancient Near Eastern precedent for the Israelite writer to have inserted his own choice of words and idioms when he described the fulfillment of a command. Indeed, were it not for the other deviations adduced here, which show that Lev 8 represents a viewpoint different from that of Exod 29, it would even be possible to argue… that Exod 29 and Lev 8 could have been written by the same author” (547-548). So just as Milgrom recognizes the nearness of the two portions of text, I do. And as he notes, they are from different perspectives.

While the narrative in Leviticus 9:1-24 and Exodus 29:38-46 are the paramount example of differing perspectives, they operate on parallel trajectories. First, both perspectives reflect cultic service after the consecration of the altar. Leviticus places the consecration in 8:15, and Exodus 29:36-37 makes official a consecrated altar. Second, both perspectives find their climax in Yahweh appearing to the people.

…the glory of the LORD appeared to all the people. – Lev 9:23b

“And I will meet there with the sons of Israel, and it shall be consecrated by My glory.” – Exod 29:43

 

 

Establishing that the glory of Yahweh will appear as the two sections parallel each other raises an important question. How do the unique perspectives on the consecration of the Tent of Meeting actually parallel and interact with each other?

In the next post, I will analyze the two perspectives, how they are similar, and how they differ.

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