Fishbane on Numbers 15, Part 1

Source: Michael Fishbane’s Biblical Interpretation in Ancient Israel (New York: Oxford, 1988) 190-191.

Michael Fishbane compares Leviticus 4 and Numbers 15:22-29, which concern unintentional sins. He points out that Leviticus 4 (unlike Numbers 15:22-29) extends its discussion to the high priest who sins, but he still maintains that Numbers 15:22-29 interprets Leviticus 4. One reason seems to be that the Numbers passage is more comprehensive and far-reaching: Numbers 15:22-29 pertains to transgressions of all the commandments, positive and negative, whereas Leviticus 4 mentions only negative commands.

But Leviticus 4 is more specific than Numbers 15:22-29 in that it refers to the high priest’s transgressions. Why couldn’t it be an interpretation of Numbers 15:22-29? Or why should we even assume one source is dependent on the other? Fishbane acknowledges that there are salient differences between the chapters: Numbers 15:24 mandates a bull and a he-goat for offerings, whereas Leviticus 4 requires a bullock. Maybe they are two separate traditions, which aren’t even interacting with each other.

We’ll look at Fishbane’s treatment of Numbers 15 over the next couple of days.

About jamesbradfordpate

My name is James Pate. This blog is about my journey. I read books. I watch movies and TV shows. I go to church. I try to find meaning. And, when I can’t do that, I just talk about stuff that I find interesting. I have degrees in fields of religious studies. I have an M.Phil. in the History of Biblical Interpretation from Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio. I also have an M.A. in Hebrew Bible from Jewish Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from DePauw University.
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