Dashing a Dynasty into a Rock, Moses vs. Aaron

1.  Today, I started Othmar Keel’s Symbolism of the Biblical World.  Something that stood out to me was on page 9.  Psalm 137:9 blesses those who will dash Babylonian little ones against rocks.  Does this mean every Babylonian child?  Keel says “no,” for it could be understood symbolically as Mother Babylon, or as referring to the children of the ruling Babylonian dynasty.  For Keel, the verse expresses hope that someone will end Babylon’s oppressive and “self-renewing” dominion.

2.  I read Robert Boling’s article on the Book of Judges in the Anchor Bible Dictionary.  He refers back to his Joshua article, which I mentioned yesterday.  I want to interact with the following quote:

Continuing rivalry of levitical-priestly families claiming descent from Aaron (Jerusalem, Bethel, Hebron) or Moses (Dan, Shiloh, and probably Shechem) explains many tensions in the traditions. See also JOSHUA, BOOK OF, section C.5.

It looks like I’ll have to reread section C5 of Boling’s Joshua article to understand what he’s saying!  Boling locates the “pro-Moses” Levites in Northern Israel, for Judges 18:30 places the grandson of Moses in Dan (up north), where he and his sons served as priests.  This grandson was the son of Gershon/m, whom Boling equates with the Gershon, the son of Levi, in Exodus 6:16-19.  And Joshua 21:27-33 locates the Gershomites in the North.  So the North had the Moses party, while the centers of David’s power towards the South (i.e., Jerusalem and Hebron) exalted the Aaronide priests. 

More than one scholar has affirmed that there was tension between the two parties.  If I recall correctly, Richard Elliott Friedman holds that the stories in the Pentateuch casting Aaron in a bad light are from the Moses school, while the passages in which the LORD speaks to both Moses and Aaron are from the Aaronide party.  Priestly writings—which occur in Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers—distinguish between the Aaronides and the Levites, giving special privileges to the Aaronides.  By contrast, Deuteronomy, which may come from the North (where the Mushites were), makes no such distinction.  King Josiah probably discovered Deuteronomy in the Temple, and Deuteronomy 18:6-8 advocates Levite participation at the place that God would choose; yet, II Kings 23:9 says that the priests of the high places (probably the Levites from the other sanctuaries, like those in the North) did not come up to the LORD’s altar in Jerusalem.  Either they excluded themselves, or the Aaronides were so powerful that they kept control of the altar, keeping out other Levitical groups.

That’s one way of looking at things!

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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1 Response to Dashing a Dynasty into a Rock, Moses vs. Aaron

  1. James Pate says:

    On my blogger blog, Emet said:


    I just finished a Jewish bible study on Joshua, Judges, and Kings. My book on Judges which has English and Hebrew show the word for Moses in chapter 18:30 is translated as Menasseh. It is written in Hebrew with a mem on the baseline, a nun raised higher than the baseline and then a shin and hei on the baseline. The commentary says it is written this way and translated as Menasseh because it is a code for Jonathan being the grandson of Moses and it is out of respect for the greatness of Moses that they encoded his name this way, since Jonathan was a priest to the tribe of Dan which meant he was doing sacrifices to idols. Certainly no one at that time thought he was a kohen since he wasn’t Aaron’s son. The Kohanim were designated as priests who would do specific work in the temple such as sacrifices and came only from Aaron and his sons. The rest of the tribe of Levi also served at the temple in different areas and in the cities of refuge.


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