Psalm 23

Notes (NET Translation)

A psalm of David.

The image in verses 1-4 reflects that of a shepherd, such as David (1 Sam 16:11).

1 The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing.

In the word shepherd, David uses the most comprehensive and intimate metaphor yet encountered in the Psalms, preferring usually the more distant ‘king’ or ‘deliverer’, or the impersonal ‘rock’, ‘shield’, etc.; whereas the shepherd lives with his flock and is everything to it: guide, physician and protector.1

That the psalmist lacks nothing is reminiscent of the Israelites lacking nothing in the wilderness (Deut 2:7).

2 He takes me to lush pastures, he leads me to refreshing water.

Sheep commonly pasture in the wilderness (etymologically, midbār suggests pasturage), land that receives too little rainfall to support a settled population and sustain agriculture but grows enough grass to support flocks that keep on the move. It is the territory the community can afford to allocate to sheep. So a shepherd’s task in the wilderness is to find the pastures for the flock (cf. 65:12 [13]; Jer. 9:10 [9]; 23:10; Joel 1:19-20; 2:22; also Amos 1:2). “Grassy” makes the point explicit. Causing the flock to lie down there rather than simply feed suggests ample provision. It implies that they have eaten, are satisfied, and have no need to move on to look for further grass: this pasture will provide the next meal, too. Lying down after feeding also hints at security (Ezek. 34:14-15; Zeph. 3:13; also Job 11:19; Isa. 17:2).2

Guiding (nāhal) is the act of a powerful but caring party toward a weaker and needy party (31:3 [4]; Gen. 33:14; 2 Chron. 28:15; Isa. 40:11; 49:10; 51:18), just as Yhwh took Israel through the wilderness and into the promised land (Exod. 15:13). As well as knowing where the grass grows, a shepherd needs to know where to find the little pools of water that the rocks trap and the sun does not evaporate, or where it is possible to construct a small dam to hold the water. . . . “Water of restfulness” is rather water by which the sheep may rest, the idea being parallel to that in v. 2a. The sheep may drink and lie down by the pool, again knowing they can get up and have another drink. It is an idyllic idea, perhaps rarely experienced in real life.

3 He restores my strength. He leads me down the right paths for the sake of his reputation.

4 Even when I must walk through the darkest valley, I fear no danger, for you are with me; your rod and your staff reassure me.

The darkest valley can be just as much a “right path” (v. 3) as a lush pasture (v. 2). The Hebrew tsalmaveth literally means the “shadow of death.” A dark valley would provide good hiding places for a predator to pounce on sheep. A shepherd’s rod was used as a weapon to attack animals and protect the sheep. A shepherd’s staff was used for support, to control the sheep, and to knock down olives for the sheep to eat.

5 You prepare a feast before me in plain sight of my enemies. You refresh my head with oil; my cup is completely full.

The feast is a celebration of God’s protection and provision.

6 Surely your goodness and faithfulness will pursue me all my days, and I will live in the LORD’s house for the rest of my life.

The implication will be that these personified attributes of Yhwh — and thus Yhwh in person as the good and committed one — will indeed make sure that we get to Yhwh’s house, and do so in order that we may stay there. Or rather, they imply that goodness and commitment will keep doing that, for they imply that we will keep needing to be chased in this way. Being in danger of not finding provender or of being attacked by enemies is not a once-for-all experience for people who belong to Yhwh. It is a recurrent one. But so is being chased and enabled to dwell with Yhwh. Through our life, for long days (the terms are parallel) Yhwh will ensure this.3

Bibliography

Craigie, Peter C., and Marvin E. Tate. Psalms 1-50. Nashville: Nelson Reference & Electronic, 2004.

Goldingay, John. Psalms: Volume 1: Psalms 1-41. Kindle Edition. Baker Academic, 2006.

Kidner, Derek. Psalms 1-72: An Introduction and Commentary. Downers Grove, Ill.: Inter-Varsity Press, 2008.

VanGemeren, Willem. Psalms. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 2008.


  1. Kidner 2008, p. 127 
  2. Goldingay 2006, loc. 7024-7030 
  3. Goldingay 2006, loc. 7105-7110 

Leviticus 23

Notes (NET Translation)

1 The LORD spoke to Moses:

2 “Speak to the Israelites and tell them, ‘These are the LORD’s appointed times which you must proclaim as holy assemblies — my appointed times:

The Sabbaths and festivals that follow are to be observed by all the Israelites, not just the priests. The sanctity of these days is brought about by both divine and human action: God appoints the times and the Israelites must proclaim them as holy/sacred.

3 “‘Six days work may be done, but on the seventh day there must be a Sabbath of complete rest, a holy assembly. You must not do any work; it is a Sabbath to the LORD in all the places where you live.

The Old Testament explicitly forbids the following work on the Sabbath: baking or boiling food (Ex 16:23), plowing or harvesting (Ex 34:21), kindling a fire (Ex 35:3), gathering wood (Num 15:32-36), carrying loads (Jer 17:21), and buying or selling (Neh 13:15-21; Amos 8:5). It is a Sabbath to the LORD, implying that the Israelites should devote themselves to spiritual matters (cf. Ps 92). This verse states that the Sabbath is to be observed where the Israelites live, not solely in the sanctuary.

4 “‘These are the LORD’s appointed times, holy assemblies, which you must proclaim at their appointed time.

5 In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month, at twilight, is a Passover offering to the LORD.

This date corresponds to the first full moon following the spring equinox.1 The Hebrew bein ha-ʿarbayim (“twilight”) is ambiguous, literally meaning between the two evenings.

Mekhilta Boʾ 5 presents the view of Rabbi Nathan that bein ha-ʿarbayim is the time after the sun begins to incline toward the west, after the sixth hour of the day. In a hypothetical twelve-hour day that begins at 6:00 A.M. and concludes at 6:00 P.M., this would mean that the time period called bein ha-ʿarbayim begins at noon. Mishnah Pesaḥim 5:1 tells us that during the period of the Second Temple, the paschal sacrifice was offered on the altar at approximately nine and a half hours into the day, immediately following the second daily offering (tamid), which was scheduled earlier on Passover eve. This was near the midpoint of the second half of the ideal twelve-hour day that begins at 6:00 A.M. and concludes at 6:00 P.M. Again, this is before twilight. There is no similar information available about practices in earlier periods of antiquity.2

6 Then on the fifteenth day of the same month will be the festival of unleavened bread to the LORD; seven days you must eat unleavened bread.

The Hebrew is clear that this is a pilgrimage feast/festival. The participants needed to undertake a pilgrimage to a cultic site in order to celebrate.

7 On the first day there will be a holy assembly for you; you must not do any regular work.

8 You must present a gift to the LORD for seven days, and the seventh day is a holy assembly; you must not do any regular work.'”

Num 28-29 provides more details of the sacrifices required for the festivals in this chapter.

9 The LORD spoke to Moses:

10 “Speak to the Israelites and tell them, ‘When you enter the land that I am about to give to you and you gather in its harvest, then you must bring the sheaf of the first portion of your harvest to the priest, 11 and he must wave the sheaf before the LORD to be accepted for your benefit — on the day after the Sabbath the priest is to wave it.

Mishnah Menaḥot 5:1 describes the procedure employed in the days of the Second Temple as follows: “How is one to do this? He inserts his two hands underneath the objects being offered and carries them to and fro. He lifts them up and lowers them.” The purpose of such rites was to show the offering to God, so that it might be accepted.3

12 On the day you wave the sheaf you must also offer a flawless yearling lamb for a burnt offering to the LORD, 13 along with its grain offering, two tenths of an ephah of choice wheat flour mixed with olive oil, as a gift to the LORD, a soothing aroma, and its drink offering, one fourth of a hin of wine.

14 You must not eat bread, roasted grain, or fresh grain until this very day, until you bring the offering of your God. This is a perpetual statute throughout your generations in all the places where you live.

The offering of the firstfruits is a ritual act by which the community acknowledges Yahweh’s ownership of the land and his rightful claim to the current harvest. For the people themselves to eat of the firstfruits would be a direct affront to Yahweh’s having blessed their land. Because Yahweh is Lord, he rightly demands the firstfruits. As soon as the people present the firstfruits, symbolized in this rite of raising up the sheaf as an elevated offering, Yahweh releases the rest of the harvest back to his people for their use. After this ritual the people may live off the harvest with deep gratitude for the harvest Yahweh has given them. By this ritual humans recognize their place in their community under God.4

15 “‘You must count for yourselves seven weeks from the day after the Sabbath, from the day you bring the wave offering sheaf; they must be complete weeks.

Verses 15-22 describe the Feast of Weeks (Pentecost).

16 You must count fifty days — until the day after the seventh Sabbath — and then you must present a new grain offering to the LORD.

17 From the places where you live you must bring two loaves of bread for a wave offering; they must be made from two tenths of an ephah of fine wheat flour, baked with yeast, as first fruits to the LORD.

18 Along with the loaves of bread, you must also present seven flawless yearling lambs, one young bull, and two rams. They are to be a burnt offering to the LORD along with their grain offering and drink offerings, a gift of a soothing aroma to the LORD.

19 You must also offer one male goat for a sin offering and two yearling lambs for a peace offering sacrifice, 20 and the priest is to wave them — the two lambs — along with the bread of the first fruits, as a wave offering before the LORD; they will be holy to the LORD for the priest.

21 “‘On this very day you must proclaim an assembly; it is to be a holy assembly for you. You must not do any regular work. This is a perpetual statute in all the places where you live throughout your generations.

22 When you gather in the harvest of your land, you must not completely harvest the corner of your field, and you must not gather up the gleanings of your harvest. You must leave them for the poor and the foreigner. I am the LORD your God.'”

Cf. Lev 19:9-10.

Why is this law included when there are no other such laws in this calendar? Regulations on firstfruits plus this law frame the calendrical instruction regarding the Feast of Weeks. Both those regulations and this law are based on the theology that Yahweh is Lord of the land and its produce. Israel recognizes his lordship by giving the firstfruits to him. They further recognize that Yahweh, their Lord, is holy and merciful, by observing the law to leave the gleanings of the harvest to the poor and to resident aliens. Their obedience lets them celebrate the bountiful harvest with full joy.5

23 The LORD spoke to Moses:

24 “Tell the Israelites, ‘In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you must have a complete rest, a memorial announced by loud horn blasts, a holy assembly.

The Feast of Trumpets, which occurred in the fall, marked the end of one agricultural year and the beginning of another.

25 You must not do any regular work, but you must present a gift to the LORD.'”

26 The LORD spoke to Moses:

27 “The tenth day of this seventh month is the Day of Atonement. It is to be a holy assembly for you, and you must humble yourselves and present a gift to the LORD.

The Day of Atonement is also described in Lev 16.

28 You must not do any work on this particular day, because it is a day of atonement to make atonement for yourselves before the LORD your God.

29 Indeed, any person who does not behave with humility on this particular day will be cut off from his people.

30 As for any person who does any work on this particular day, I will exterminate that person from the midst of his people!

31 You must not do any work. This is a perpetual statute throughout your generations in all the places where you live.

32 It is a Sabbath of complete rest for you, and you must humble yourselves on the ninth day of the month in the evening, from evening until evening you must observe your Sabbath.”

The observance of the Day of Atonement begins in the evening. Milgrom points out that fasting (“humbling yourselves”) from evening to evening would limit the fast to 24 hours whereas waiting until the next morning would result in a 36 hour fast. Hence, the observance may have begun in the evening, instead of the morning, for practical reasons.

33 The LORD spoke to Moses:

34 “Tell the Israelites, ‘On the fifteenth day of this seventh month is the Festival of Temporary Shelters for seven days to the LORD.

A booth (sukkah) “designates a small, often impermanent structure that is covered on top, but that may be only partially enclosed on its sides.”6

35 On the first day is a holy assembly; you must do no regular work.

36 For seven days you must present a gift to the LORD. On the eighth day there is to be a holy assembly for you, and you must present a gift to the LORD. It is a solemn assembly day; you must not do any regular work.

37 “‘These are the appointed times of the LORD that you must proclaim as holy assemblies to present a gift to the LORD — burnt offering, grain offering, sacrifice, and drink offerings, each day according to its regulation, 38 besides the Sabbaths of the LORD and all your gifts, votive offerings, and freewill offerings which you must give to the LORD.

39 “‘On the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when you gather in the produce of the land, you must celebrate a pilgrim festival of the LORD for seven days. On the first day is a complete rest and on the eighth day is complete rest.

40 On the first day you must take for yourselves branches from majestic trees — palm branches, branches of leafy trees, and willows of the brook — and you must rejoice before the LORD your God for seven days.

Presumably these are the materials used to make the booths.

41 You must celebrate it as a pilgrim festival to the LORD for seven days in the year. This is a perpetual statute throughout your generations; you must celebrate it in the seventh month.

42 You must live in temporary shelters for seven days; every native citizen in Israel must live in temporary shelters, 43 so that your future generations may know that I made the Israelites live in temporary shelters when I brought them out from the land of Egypt. I am the LORD your God.'”

The people are to erect סכת, “booths,” to dwell in during this week. While it is not explicitly stated, one could infer that these booths are to be made out of branches from the trees mentioned here. These booths are to be constructed like the temporary shelters that were erected in the fields to enable a person to live there during the harvest in order to protect the fields from robbers, both humans and animals (Neh 8:16). In the tradition as prescribed here, these booths came to symbolize the temporary shelters the people lived in during the wilderness journey. There is a little tension in that in the wilderness the people lived in אהלים, “tents,” not booths. But there is a deeper play on the tradition, for the first resting place of the Israelites in their exit from Egypt was סכת, “Succoth” (Exod 12:37; Num 33:5). Levine (163) points out that סכות is a double entendre, a place name and a type of habitation. These shelters, however, are not to recall the hardship of the wilderness, but the grace of God in providing for his people in so many ways in such an austere environment (Keil and Delitzsch, 449–50). This interpretation is supported by the construction of the booths out of the glorious trees of the promised land, not from the shrubs of the wilderness (cf. Deut 8:7–8). These booths are a symbol of the people’s gratefulness to their caring God during this joyful feast. In this way this feast became tied to Israel’s saving history. It is specifically stated that during this feast כל־האזרח בישׂראל, “all citizens of Israel,” are to live in booths.7

44 So Moses spoke to the Israelites about the appointed times of the LORD.

Bibliography

Hartley, John E. Leviticus. Dallas, Tex.: Word Books, 1992.

Levine, Baruch A. Leviticus. Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1989.

Milgrom, Jacob. Leviticus 17-22. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2008.

Rooker, Mark, and Dennis R. Cole. Leviticus. Kindle Edition. Holman Reference, 2000.

Wenham, Gordon J. The Book of Leviticus. Kindle Edition. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1979.


  1. Hartley 1998, p. 384 
  2. Levine 1989, p. 156 
  3. Levine 1989, p. 157 
  4. Hartley 1998, p. 391 
  5. Hartley 1998, p. 374 
  6. Levine 1989, p. 162 
  7. Hartley 1998, p. 389–390 

Re: God, Darwin and My College Biology Class

At the New York Times, David P. Barash has written an opinion piece: “God, Darwin and My College Biology Class“. It’s another in a long line of poorly reasoned pieces from scientists believing they have some special insight into philosophical and religious matters.

Let me get my agreement with Barash out of the way: “there is nothing in evolutionary biology that necessarily precludes religion.” Yet he goes on to claim that evolutionary science has “undermined belief in an omnipotent and omni-benevolent God.” That’s where he starts going off the rails.

His first claim is that evolution demolishes William Paley’s argument from complexity:

Since Darwin, however, we have come to understand that an entirely natural and undirected process, namely random variation plus natural selection, contains all that is needed to generate extraordinary levels of non-randomness. Living things are indeed wonderfully complex, but altogether within the range of a statistically powerful, entirely mechanical phenomenon.

That evolution is “undirected” is a metaphysical claim. If creationism or intelligent design cannot be taught in public schools because they violate the separation of church and state then neither should atheistic metaphysical beliefs be allowed to be taught in public schools. Barash is a professor at the University of Washington, a public university. I agree with blogger Crude’s comments:

My understanding is that David Barash works at a public university. Splendid.

Then David Barash should be fired.

More than that: David Barash’s firing should be demanded by anyone who insists that religion and religious claims must be kept out of the (public) classroom and out of science. He can believe whatever he wants about religion, God, science, theodicy, philosophy, metaphysics and more. What he cannot do is take on the role of a teacher on the public dole, inserting his religious beliefs into a science class.

Or if someone insists that David Barash should not be fired, that it’s okay for a public teacher to lecture as he did about what ‘science shows’ relating to God and religion, there’s only one other reasonable alternative: upend the Dover decision, and declare that if a teacher in a public school wishes to take the opposing view – that evolution is not in fact capable of giving a total explanation of biology in the relevant sense, that science has uncovered or suggested ‘supernatural’ findings in man and elsewhere, that what we know of the world gives evidence for the existence of a supernatural, even benevolent creator – they may do so. Intelligent Design and even creationists will suddenly win after all.

Me? I’m calling for consistency, and a reasonable, continued separation of Church and State. And that means calling for David Barash to be fired for his “Talk”.

And I demand the same of anyone else who claims to want church and state separated. Be consistent, or be gone.

Barash next attacks the belief that humans are distinct from other lifeforms. Yet, going back to at least Aristotle, humans have been identified as rational animals. Such an identification accounts for both the similarities and differences between humans and non-human animals. Evolution provides an historical account of how humans may have arisen but it does not break new ground in claiming that humans are animals. He continues:

Moreover, no literally supernatural trait has ever been found in Homo sapiens; we are perfectly good animals, natural as can be and indistinguishable from the rest of the living world at the level of structure as well as physiological mechanism.

The terms “natural” and “supernatural” are poorly defined. It’s not as if scientists have some supernatural detector that they can flip on and scan the human body with to look for supernatural traits.

The third point Barash brings up is connecting evolution with the problem of evil. He notes that the natural world is filled with “predation, parasitism, fratricide, infanticide, disease, pain, old age and death — and that suffering (like joy) is built into the nature of things.” I have no intention of diving into theodicy in this post. I will merely note that suffering, pain, and death are obvious facts of the world that in no way require knowledge of evolution to accept. In fact, our ancestors probably saw more suffering, pain, and death than the average modern Westerner. Evolution has not made the problem of evil any more difficult.

I conclude The Talk by saying that, although they don’t have to discard their religion in order to inform themselves about biology (or even to pass my course), if they insist on retaining and respecting both, they will have to undertake some challenging mental gymnastic routines.

No gymnastic routines are necessary at all. Religion does not depend on Paley-type arguments from complexity (also note you can move back the argument from biology to cosmology). We already knew that humans are animals and evil exists before we knew about evolution. Frankly, evolution does nothing to advance atheism.

Psalm 22

Notes (NET Translation)

For the music director; according to the tune “Morning Doe;” a psalm of David.

1 My God, my God, why have you abandoned me? I groan in prayer, but help seems far away.

The psalmist is not speaking of a broken relationship with God, rather, as the second line makes clear, he is using the language to describe how he feels. Practically speaking, God feels distant rather than near.1 Jesus cries out “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” during his crucifixion (Mt 27:46; Mk 15:34).

What is most significant about the NT perspective is the self-identification of Jesus with the suffering psalmist, for it provides an insight into one part of the meaning of the crucifixion. The sufferer of Ps 22 is a human being, experiencing the terror of mortality in the absence of God and the presence of enemies. In the suffering of Jesus, we perceive God, in Jesus, entering into and participating in the terror of mortality; he identifies with the suffering and the dying. Because God, in Jesus, has engaged in that desolation, he can offer comfort to those of us who walk now where the psalmist walked. But there is also a remarkable difference between the experience of the suffering psalmist and that of Jesus. The psalm concludes with praise because the sufferer escaped death; Jesus died. Yet the latter half of the psalm (vv 22-32) may also be read from a messianic perspective. The transition at v 22 is now understood not in deliverance from death, as was the case for the psalmist, but in deliverance through death, achieved in the resurrection. And it is that deliverance which is the ground of praise, both for the sufferer (vv 23-27) and for the “great congregation” (vv 28-32).2

2 My God, I cry out during the day, but you do not answer, and during the night my prayers do not let up.

3 You are holy; you sit as king receiving the praises of Israel.

4 In you our ancestors trusted; they trusted in you and you rescued them.

5 To you they cried out, and they were saved; in you they trusted and they were not disappointed.

6 But I am a worm, not a man; people insult me and despise me.

A worm is a symbol of insignificance (Isa 41:14; Job 25:6) and also associated with a state of decay or death (Isa 14:11).

7 All who see me taunt me; they mock me and shake their heads.

This kind of behavior was directed towards Jesus during the passion (Mt. 20:19; 27:29, 31, 39, 41; Mk. 10:34; 15:20, 29, 31; Lk. 18:32; 22:63; 23:11, 36).

8 They say, “Commit yourself to the LORD! Let the LORD rescue him! Let the LORD deliver him, for he delights in him.”

The unpious mock the psalmist with their argument against his kind of piety. They question his suffering in the light of their myopic view of God’s love, and in the promises of God’s deliverance. If the psalmist had trusted the Lord, why then is he suffering? They conclude that either he had boasted of trusting in God but was hypocritical or that God does not love him. These ancient mockers posed the issue of the problem of evil and suffering in a most agonizing way. The hope of the godly was in God’s “delight” in his saints, especially during times of adversity (cf. 37:23). The support of the Lord’s hand (37:24) is not there, and the mockers make the most of this occasion.3

Similar words were directed towards Jesus as he hung from the cross (Mt 27:43; Lk 23:35).

9 Yes, you are the one who brought me out from the womb and made me feel secure on my mother’s breasts.

10 I have been dependent on you since birth; from the time I came out of my mother’s womb you have been my God.

11 Do not remain far away from me, for trouble is near and I have no one to help me.

12 Many bulls surround me; powerful bulls of Bashan hem me in.

The crowd of enemies is portrayed in beastly terms as they show inhuman cruelty. Bashan produced the largest cattle in the territory (Dt 32:14; Mic 7:14).

Bashan is the region known today as the Golan Heights, located north of the Yarmuk, east of the Sea of Galilee, and south of the Hermon Range. Its elevation is about two thousand feet above sea level, and it receives an average rain of over twenty-four inches per year. Its productiveness in meat, wheat, and oaks, largely due to its regular precipitation, led to Bashan’s becoming symbolic of human pride (Isa 2:13). The enemies in their self-reliance are compared to the bulls raised on the Bashan plateau. As they encircle, their “horns” (v. 21) are all to evident and inspire fear in the psalmist.4

13 They open their mouths to devour me like a roaring lion that rips its prey.

14 My strength drains away like water; all my bones are dislocated; my heart is like wax; it melts away inside me.

This verse indicates the psalmist is “washed out”, “falling apart”, or “can’t hold it together.”

15 The roof of my mouth is as dry as a piece of pottery; my tongue sticks to my gums. You set me in the dust of death.

16 Yes, wild dogs surround me — a gang of evil men crowd around me; like a lion they pin my hands and feet.

Derek Kidner argues that “pierced” is the best translation of the Hebrew karah:

A strong argument in its favor is that the LXX, compiled two centuries before the crucifixion, and therefore an unbiased witness, understood it so. All the major translations reject the Masoretic vowels (added to the written text in the Christian era) as yielding little sense here (see margin of RV, RSV, NEB), and the majority in fact agree with LXX. The chief alternatives (e.g., ‘bound’ or ‘hacked off’) solve no linguistic difficulties which ‘pierced” does not solve, but avoid the apparent prediction of the cross by exchanging a common Hebrew verb (dig, bore, pierce) for hypothetical ones, attested only in Akkadian, Syriac and Arabic, not in biblical Hebrew.5

17 I can count all my bones; my enemies are gloating over me in triumph.

18 They are dividing up my clothes among themselves; they are rolling dice for my garments.

The soldiers threw dice to decide who would get Jesus’ garments (Mt 27:35; Mk 15:24; Lk 23:34; Jn 19:24).

19 But you, O LORD, do not remain far away! You are my source of strength! Hurry and help me!

20 Deliver me from the sword! Save my life from the claws of the wild dogs!

The sword is a metaphor for violent death.6

21 Rescue me from the mouth of the lion, and from the horns of the wild oxen! You have answered me!

22 I will declare your name to my countrymen! In the middle of the assembly I will praise you!

The “assembly” refers to the congregation of the righteous.7 Heb. 2:11-12 relates this verse to Christ.

23 You loyal followers of the LORD, praise him! All you descendants of Jacob, honor him! All you descendants of Israel, stand in awe of him!

24 For he did not despise or detest the suffering of the oppressed; he did not ignore him; when he cried out to him, he responded.

25 You are the reason I offer praise in the great assembly; I will fulfill my promises before the LORD’s loyal followers.

26 Let the oppressed eat and be filled! Let those who seek his help praise the LORD! May you live forever!

27 Let all the people of the earth acknowledge the LORD and turn to him! Let all the nations worship you!

28 For the LORD is king and rules over the nations.

29 All of the thriving people of the earth will join the celebration and worship; all those who are descending into the grave will bow before him, including those who cannot preserve their lives.

30 A whole generation will serve him; they will tell the next generation about the sovereign Lord.

31 They will come and tell about his saving deeds; they will tell a future generation what he has accomplished.

Bibliography

Craigie, Peter C., and Marvin E. Tate. Psalms 1-50. Nashville: Nelson Reference & Electronic, 2004.

Goldingay, John. Psalms: Volume 1: Psalms 1-41. Kindle Edition. Baker Academic, 2006.

Kidner, Derek. Psalms 1-72: An Introduction and Commentary. Downers Grove, Ill.: Inter-Varsity Press, 2008.

VanGemeren, Willem. Psalms. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 2008.


  1. Kidner 2008, p. 123 
  2. Craigie 2004, p. 202–203 
  3. VanGemeren 2008, p. 239 
  4. VanGemeren 2008, p. 242 
  5. Kidner 2008, p. 125 
  6. Goldingay 2006, loc. 6763-6764 
  7. VanGemeren 2008, p. 247 

The Beginnings of Christianity: Part 1, The Acts of the Apostles

By way of NT scholar Larry Hurtado I learn that the five-volume The Beginnings of Christianity: Part 1, The Acts of the Apostles is still considered an important work. I’ve been able to track down the first four volumes on the invaluable Internet Archive:

I have not been able to find volume 5, which Hurtado says contains “Additional Notes” that include some valuable studies of particular topics in Acts. If anyone manages to find it a link below would be much appreciated.

Leviticus 22

Notes (NET Translation)

1 The Lord spoke to Moses:

2 “Tell Aaron and his sons that they must deal respectfully with the holy offerings of the Israelites, which they consecrate to me, so that they do not profane my holy name. I am the Lord.

3 Say to them, ‘Throughout your generations, if any man from all your descendants approaches the holy offerings which the Israelites consecrate to the Lord while he is impure, that person must be cut off from before me. I am the Lord.

A priest, like a regular citizen, becomes unclean during the course of daily routine. Whenever he becomes unclean, he cannot contact anything that is holy. The holy must never be defiled. The holy things here are specifically the elevated offerings that have not gone to the altar (7:28-34). Perhaps there was a tendency not to consider them as holy since they had not been on the altar and thus to treat them more casually. Defilement of the holy carries the severe cut-off penalty (cf. 7:20-21). Never again could such an offender serve at the altar.1

4 No man from the descendants of Aaron who is diseased or has a discharge may eat the holy offerings until he becomes clean. The one who touches anything made unclean by contact with a dead person, or a man who has a seminal emission, 5 or a man who touches a swarming thing by which he becomes unclean, or touches a person by which he becomes unclean, whatever that person’s impurity – 6 the person who touches any of these will be unclean until evening and must not eat from the holy offerings unless he has bathed his body in water.

7 When the sun goes down he will be clean, and afterward he may eat from the holy offerings, because they are his food.

8 He must not eat an animal that has died of natural causes or an animal torn by beasts and thus become unclean by it. I am the Lord.

Cf. Ex. 22:31; Lev. 17:15; Deut. 14:21; Ezek. 44:31.

9 They must keep my charge so that they do not incur sin on account of it and therefore die because they profane it. I am the Lord who sanctifies them.

10 “‘No lay person may eat anything holy. Neither a priest’s lodger nor a hired laborer may eat anything holy, 11 but if a priest buys a person with his own money, that person may eat the holy offerings, and those born in the priest’s own house may eat his food.

12 If a priest’s daughter marries a lay person, she may not eat the holy contribution offerings, 13 but if a priest’s daughter is a widow or divorced, and she has no children so that she returns to live in her father’s house as in her youth, she may eat from her father’s food, but no lay person may eat it.

According to biblical law, a widow or a divorcee without children was compelled to rely on her father or her brothers for support. A widow did not inherit her husband’s estate; his sons or, if he had no sons, his daughters fell heir to it. Similarly, a childless, divorced woman had no claim on her husband’s estate. (In later Judaism, the settlement contained in the ketubbah, “writ of marriage,” protected women in such circumstances.) This verse ordains, therefore, that the daughter of a priest who had been married to a nonpriest could regain her privileges within her original, priestly family.2

14 “‘If a man eats a holy offering by mistake, he must add one fifth to it and give the holy offering to the priest.

It is unclear whether the man in this verse is a priest or a layman.

15 They must not profane the holy offerings which the Israelites contribute to the Lord, 16 and so cause them to incur a penalty for guilt when they eat their holy offerings, for I am the Lord who sanctifies them.'”

These verses appear to serve as a warning to priests who might be tempted to give the holy offerings to non-priests.

17 The Lord spoke to Moses:

18 “Speak to Aaron, his sons, and all the Israelites and tell them, ‘When any man from the house of Israel or from the foreigners in Israel presents his offering for any of the votive or freewill offerings which they present to the Lord as a burnt offering, 19 if it is to be acceptable for your benefit it must be a flawless male from the cattle, sheep, or goats.

Note that a foreigner in Israel had the opportunity to worship Yahweh.

20 You must not present anything that has a flaw, because it will not be acceptable for your benefit.

21 If a man presents a peace offering sacrifice to the Lord for a special votive offering or for a freewill offering from the herd or the flock, it must be flawless to be acceptable; it must have no flaw.

22 “‘You must not present to the Lord something blind, or with a broken bone, or mutilated, or with a running sore, or with a festering eruption, or with a feverish rash. You must not give any of these as a gift on the altar to the Lord.

23 As for an ox or a sheep with a limb too long or stunted, you may present it as a freewill offering, but it will not be acceptable for a votive offering.

Less stringent restrictions for the freewill offering may be due to it being an entirely voluntary offering.

24 You must not present to the Lord something with testicles that are bruised, crushed, torn, or cut off; you must not do this in your land.

25 Even from a foreigner you must not present the food of your God from such animals as these, for they are ruined and flawed; they will not be acceptable for your benefit.'”

26 The Lord spoke to Moses:

27 “When an ox, lamb, or goat is born, it must be under the care of its mother seven days, but from the eighth day onward it will be acceptable as an offering gift to the Lord.

28 You must not slaughter an ox or a sheep and its young on the same day.

Traditionally, this prohibition has been explained as expressing compassion for living creatures. It has been understood to apply only to female animals, “mothers,” and their male offspring (Heb. beno, [literally] “its son”). Practically speaking, male animals account for the majority of sacrifices. This interpretation is cited by Rashi, Maimonides, and others.3

This is not a particularly satisfying rationale since presumably the mother and son could still be sacrificed on successive days.

29 When you sacrifice a thanksgiving offering to the Lord, you must sacrifice it so that it is acceptable for your benefit.

30 On that very day it must be eaten; you must not leave any part of it over until morning. I am the Lord.

31 “You must be sure to do my commandments. I am the Lord.

32 You must not profane my holy name, and I will be sanctified in the midst of the Israelites. I am the Lord who sanctifies you, 33 the one who brought you out from the land of Egypt to be your God. I am the Lord.”

YHWH is sanctified when Israel performs his commandments (v. 31), not that he thereby increases his own sanctity. Rather, it does so relatively. Israel increasingly regards him with sanctity and is more scrupulous in preventing the desecration of his name. The result is that YHWH’s sanctity is more visible, giving the appearance of his increased sanctity.4

Bibliography

Hartley, John E. Leviticus. Dallas, Tex.: Word Books, 1992.

Levine, Baruch A. Leviticus. Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1989.

Milgrom, Jacob. Leviticus 17-22. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2008.

Rooker, Mark, and Dennis R. Cole. Leviticus. Kindle Edition. Holman Reference, 2000.

Wenham, Gordon J. The Book of Leviticus. Kindle Edition. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1979.


  1. Hartley 1998, p. 355 
  2. Levine 1989, p. 150 
  3. Levine 1989, p. 152 
  4. Milgrom 2008, p. 1888 

A layman's views on biblical scholarship, religion, philosophy and more

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