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!