Everyday I become more and more convinced that complexity is one of the pivotal issues in our lives.
Think of the last time you gave someone directions how to get somewhere, without them writing it down. Every additional instruction is followed by additional despair in their eyes until they eventually give in. "I'll call you when I get lost." From my experience, most people handle at most 4 turns in an area they don't know before losing it. A 5th is just too much to handle.
As someone I know once told me, complexity builds itself. Take a simple concept and embellish it, and before you know it you have complexity. This applies to nature, to philosophy, mathematics, computer science, and every other human endeavor. You don't need to be a big Chochom to create complexity. This is why the Talmud is not particularly impressive to me -- take a set of starting assumptions, about a broken, conflicted document, and then try to iron out a set of laws from that document that is consistent. You'll end up (over many years) with something like the Talmud and its commentaries.
We can learn a lot about the our relationship with complexity through children. Kids live in a bubble of simplicity. They have a minimal capacity to assimilate the complexity of the world. For example, they need clearly defined 'good guys' and 'bad guys'. G-d forbid some of the 'good guys' should turn into bad guys! The very thought is inconceivable to them. The world must be as static and as simple as possible.
Every one of us still lives with that same bubble of simplicity, except some of us have expanded it more than others. Growing up, we realize that morality and the world in general is more complicated than we initially thought. And yet we struggle with life's complexity. Young adults tend to be naively idealistic about ideas precisely because they shut out the (complex) part of the world that doesn't fit in with their views. Even adults often don't accept a certain complexity of life until they experience it themselves ie. until they are forced to expand their bubble in that direction. As just one example, marriage is characterized as a noble ideal - yet when one experiences divorce C"V, one realizes the complex truth that sometimes divorce is necessary and even good.
Everywhere we turn in life we find complexity, and it scares us. The human being evolved to handle a moderate amount of complexity. We evolved with a primitive emotional system that needs simple things to latch on to, causing us to have serious biases and deficiencies in our thinking. We do have an advanced brain (relatively speaking, of course) but it is nevertheless very lacking. Not only is it extremely biased as well, it reaches its limits of complexity very rapidly.
For example, why do human beings need professions and specialization? Because the amount of complexity in most jobs is overwhelming. We can only really specialize in one thing. And how do we do this? How do we conquer complexity in our one field? By repeating the same task over and over again until we learn it. We slowly expand our circle of comprehension, often losing what we've learned along the way until we come to repeat it again.
Another limiting factor of our brain is our memory. It's built as an associative system and thus is poorly made for handling a complex world, which is better organized hierarchically. Our memory is terrible at remembering details, but it remembers stories and narratives fairly well, which is cause for yet another one of our biases - the narrative bias. We remember a juicy piece of gossip (which is understandable from an evolutionary perspective) far better than we do the periodic table, and this causes us to turn dry facts into exciting stories even if that means the stories are mostly fabricated. Think of the concept of 'based on a true story' in the movies and you'll get the idea.
I think this notion of complexity goes a long way towards explaining many phenomena in life. It explains why we tend to make sweeping generalizations. It explains a part of how we measure intelligence (really a measure of grasping complexity) and it also explains parts of religion.
People who live in times of great change are hit particularly hard by both complexity and uncertainty -- two things that scare us to no end. One of the functions of religion is to simplify the complexity of the world for us. Religion claims that it knows everything there is to know about the world. All we have to do is listen to our rabbi, follow what he tells us, and we no longer have to struggle with the complexity of life. It's during times of transition that religion seems most appealing. The anti-authority revolution of the 60s and the accelerating scientific revolution of the last several hundred years has left us with a world that is more complex and ever-shifting than ever. At the same time, we've been stripped of religion, which served as a blanket to shield us from the world's uncertainties. The Jew in Poland who had to tolerate pogroms, nevertheless had faith that his rabbi knew what he was talking about when he said that in the next world, everything would be better.
Some might counter that Judaism bombards us with more complexity than is present in the world around us, in the form of laws, commandments, Gemara and Halacha. It takes years to master this complexity, so how can one claim that Judaism makes life simpler? I think the key point here is that Judaism gives us a measured amount of complexity to deal with (Torah), and then tells us to focus almost entirely on this complexity. By stressing Torah over anything else in life, we're told that all other complexity is not really needed. Our anxiety over mastering the complexity of life is thus greatly reduced. All we need to do is to devote our life to mastering one complex field, and G-d will take care of everything else. Additionally, from the get-go, we're told we don't even need to worry about exhausting this field (Lo Aleicha Hamlacha Ligmor). We just need to make an effort.
On the other hand, I think even skeptics tend to shy away from complex positions. Many skeptics, as soon as they locate the countless holes in Judaism, throw out the entire package. This may sometimes be a reflexive avoidance of a possible complex position -- Judaism may be false, but some of its facets may have truth to them.
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Everyday I become more and more convinced that complexity is one of the pivotal issues in our lives.
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
Is morality objective, or is it subjective? I think the reason people trip over the answer to this question, is because the answer is somewhere in the middle.
Morality is objective in the sense that it's rooted in human empathy, which itself developed from the needs of a social contract. No society can be built on the basis of backstabbing, murder and lying. There must be some trust between fellow people, some way to prevent a tribe from degenerating into utter chaos. There must be some way for one caveman to know that he can go on the hunt, and expect to come back to his belongings and dear ones, knowing that no-one in his tribe took everything that he holds dear (at least without consequences).
Initially morality was targeted purely at one's own tribe. However, once human (and animal) nature evolved to support empathy, it became possible to apply this empathy to larger and larger circles, which was necessary as society grew. The key for application of human empathy is to see another human being as similar to oneself. Those elements of a society that were seen as equally human were seen in moral terms, while those which were dehumanized were deprived of moral treatment.
Thus, morality is objective inasmuch as it is the grease that keeps a society working. It is a reality of social structure, much like bureaucracy and is conveniently buttressed by human nature.
However, morality is also subjective in the sense that every culture throughout time determined its moral strictures differently, depending on its needs and depending on how wide its circles of empathy were.
Another subjective element of morality is that it is not strictly solvable. Society has clearly been moving in the direction of increasing circles of empathy. We now see people of different races, different religions and different sexual orientations as similar to ourselves, unlike our ancestors. But what about fetuses, for example? This age-old question remains unsolvable. At what point should a fetus be seen as a full-fledged human? Seeing a moving, reacting fetus kicks our empathy instinct into gear, and yet a fetus is clearly a not-quite-human entity encased in the very human shell of the mother, who often has different needs. What about empathy for animals? Also, what about the concept of equality? Once our circles of empathy are well developed, we become acutely aware of the inequality inherent in life. To what degree should a society be obligated to correct that inequality?
These are age-old questions that are debated endlessly by societies, and ultimately show that there are no 'objective' solutions to the question of morality.
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Sunday, June 28, 2009
One question that comes up is -- who is the narrator? If the narrator of the rest of the Chumash was G-d (let's just assume that for the moment), who narrated Moshe's speeches and other miscellaneous tidbits in the book of Devarim? It's unlikely that Moshe, who wrote his speeches in 1st person, would then proceed to describe himself delivering them in the 3rd person.
We also have the classic issue of who wrote the last chapter of Devarim? How could Moshe know nobody would know his resting place? And would Moshe, the humblest of men, have written about himself that "there hath not arisen a prophet since in Israel like unto Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face"?
But these aren't the biggest issues.
Saturday, June 27, 2009
We go on with David A.'s comparison of Devarim and the rest of Chumash (ROC). This time, we compare the Mitzvot, which forms the 2nd (and biggest) part of the book.
This review really can be broken down in two main groups. Those mitzvot that are in contradiction (wholly or just some detail) to the corresponding mitzva given in the rest of Chumashm (RofC), and those mitzvot that are a clear duplicate of a corresponding mitzvah from the ROC but with additional or fewer features.
So, for the group of mitzvot that seem contradictory or contain contradictory elements and in no particular order.
•Maaser (tithes). Deut 14:22 defines the annual tithe as a requirement that every farmer set aside 10% of his crop and bring it up to Jerusalem for him and his family to consume. Num 18:21 says all maaser is for the Levi.
To anticipate the response to this that the oral law has resolved this issue by promulgating 2 tithes (rishon for the levi, sheni for the farmer), i would like to point out that an objective and reasonable reading of D, indicates that the author of D did not know about or keep thi so-called “levi” tithe. This follows from the fact that that overall D is very concerned about the welfare of the Levi. At least half a dozen times he demands that the farmer share his “simcha” with the levi and twice he admonishes B.Y. “not to abandon the levi” (D 12:19, 14:27), so it is not credible that if there was a maser levi that D would fail to remind BY of it. Further D14:28 assigns a special command to clean house of all leftover maaser by inviting the Levi (and the poor) to a “house cleaning”. This makes no sense if there is already a maaser levi in affect.
•Bechor. (first born of sheep and cattle) D 14:23 & 15:20 says that the first born is for the cattle owner to bring to Jerusalem for him to consume with his family. Lev 27:26 says its to be given to “God” (i.e. the Kohen). Also, D 15:19 says the farmer should specifically “sanctify” his first born. Lev 27:26 provides a contradictory message.
•Festivals. In the Rof C they are designated as holy days (mikrei koidesh) and thereby all work is prohibited. Not so in D 16:1-15. And, except for the last day of Pesach, there is no indication of a work prohibition. In fact one may argue that D 16:8, by specifying a prohibition on day 7 of pesach, this indicates that the other days work was permitted. In fact, Deut D 16:7 clearly states that on the morn’ of day 1 of Pesach one may travel home.
•A few additional minor details that are contradictory. Deut 16:2 says that the Korban pesach can be from sheep and cattle, while Exodus says it was to be sheep. Also, D 16:7 says it is eaten cooked and Exodus says only roasted. In Deut, succot is seven days, while in Lev /Num its seven days followed by an eighth non-work day. And there is no indication that succot has booths or is related to the exodus whatsoever. Shavuot is defined as seven weeks after the early harvest begins (D16:9) and the festival involves the family and the indigent. In Lev. 23:15, the date of Shavuot is given as 7 weeks following the first Sunday following the pascal lamb and no elaborate celebration is mandated.
•Shemittah. In Deut 15:1 the definition of shmittah is about forgiving debts every seven years. In Lev 25:1 the law is about leaving the land fallow.
•Jewish bondsman. D 15:12 says that an eved ivri works for 6 years, and gets to go free after the 6 years, while Lev 25:40 frees him at yovel . Also, in Deut (and in Exodus 21:6) the text says that a recalcitrant eved stays employed forever. In Lev 25:39 implies that all go free at yovel.
The laws governing animals that may be eaten are given in Lev. 11:1-47 and repeated D 14:3-21 with a fairly detailed and similar description of the laws governing which animals (including birds, insects and fish) are forbidden to be eaten.
Aside from the major issue of how to explain the seemingly trivial textual variations between the two passages, the few notable major differences between D & Lev. (but not necessarily out right contradictions) in law are:
1.D 14:19 makes a statement that seems to be a blanket ban on all flying insects or however one translates the phrase “sheretz ha-oif”, while Lev. differentiates and gives criteria for those permissible insects.
2.Both D and Lev., in addition to forbidding eating these animals, also forbid the touching of carcasses of unclean animals. However Lev, then introduces a new set of laws that the touching of such animals induces a state of Ta-amei for the person and his clothes, requiring mikvah purification for them. D does not seem to care.
3.Carcasses of Animals. D 14:21 says they may sold to non-Jews. While Exodus 22:14 states they must “be thrown to the dogs” implying no permission to sell.
•Blood. D 12:24 states that blood is forbidden to be consumed and must be poured away, with no distinction made for domestic or wild animals, while Lev 17:13 states that for wild (kosher) animals the blood is to be covered.
•Cities of refuge. Deut 19:1-10 and Num 35:9-28 both define was is essentially the same law. A person inadvertently killing another is sent to exile in 6 special cities. Aside from the fact that the language and terminology differ markedly in the 2 passages and a literal reading of the 2 texts seem to imply differing conditions under which the law is applicable, there are 2 clear contradictions. In N, the BY are told to build (or assign) 6 cities 3 on each side of the Jordan. important as opposed to only 3 cities in D. In D, the parameter for the refuge seems to be as a result of a pure accident, less so in N. Also, N the murderer can leave the city when the Kohen godol dies. No such freedom is accorded in D.
•Levite Cities. In Num 35:1-8, the Torah commands that 42 cities be set aside for habitation by the tribe of Levi. Deut 18:1 goes out of its way to again command that no land be given to the Levites. If D had the same mitzvah of 42 cities for the Levites, it would be a good place to mention it.
•The Kohen’s due. D 18:3-5 assigns exactly what the Kohen is get from the offerings on the altar and from BY’s crops. The items so designated are but a fraction of what is due to the Kohanin as defined in Leviticus and Numbers. (in many, many places)
•Definition of a Kohen. D 18:5-6 states that Kohanim were from all of Levi and that any Levite can apply to become a Kohen. Rof C repeatedly states that only the direct descendants of Aaron may serve as Kohanim. (see Ex 40:15, Num 18:7, 25:13….).
•Torah Study. D (6:7 & 11:19) commands that BY teach their children “these words”. No such command is found in Rof C, and teaching of the Torah seems relegated to the Kohanim and leadership.
•Tzitzit. In D (22:12) the mitzvah is placing “twisted threads” (artscroll’s translation) only on 4-corners of your clothing or only on 4-cornered clothes. In Num 15:37+, the mitzvah is “fringes” on the corner of all one's garments, not limiting it to only 4 cornered clothes.
•Shatneiz. D 22:10, the Torah forbids wearing shatneiz and expressly defines it as a combination of wool and linen. In Lev 19:19 literally, one might say the text refers to all mixed combinations.
•Similar distinction for “Kelei-im. In D 22:8, its limited to the vineyard. no such limitation in Lev. 19:19
•Shotgun wedding. In D, it’s a result of rape. In Ex. 22:15, it’s a result of seduction.
•Interest on Loans. D 23:20 states that it is forbidden to charge interest on loans to your fellow Jew while both Ex 22:24 and Lev. 25:36 imply that this restriction of charging interest is only on loans made to the poor.
•Amalek. Deut 25:17-19 commands BY to remember forever what happened with Amalek in the wilderness and that BY “wipe out the memory of Amalek”. No such command appears in the R of C and this whole passage makes no sense in light of verse Ex. 17:14 where God promises to “wipe out the memory of Amalek.
Posted by Bluddy at 9:43 PM
I would like this blog to become a resource of sorts for textual errors, contradictions and mistakes. Not because you can't get some of this information elsewhere (check the right bar if you're not sure) but because most resources online are not comprehensive, not built for Jews (what do I care about contradictions in the New Testament?) or don't package the information effectively enough.
Rather than starting from scratch, I asked David A. if I can post his exhaustive list of differences between Devarim and the rest of Chumash on my blog, and he has graciously agreed.
Note that there are both disadvantages and advantages to making a list of discrepancies. The disadvantage is that we humans tend to lump things together. Too much information presented at once is seen as less convincing, just as statistics about high casualties are less touching than a single human story. On the other hand, presenting a single problem at a time is too time consuming and easier to kvetch, since the kvethcer doesn't need to make his kvetch work with all the other information. The ideal way to go through this list is one problem at a time, letting it build up so one realizes the gargantuan nature of the problem and indeed, how clear it is that the text is multi-authored. I hope to be able to focus on specific issues in the future.
David A: When i did this exercise (and it took months to complete) i broke the exercise it into 2 parts.
A. A posuk by posuk review of Devarim vs the corresponding (if any) in Shemot, Vayikra and Bamidbar.
B. A general summary of the hashkofot of D vs rest of Chumash (ROC).
The meforshim have many explanation, some sensible, some so lame you wonder if they believed them themselves.
The first posuk has several oddities:
1. The term "Ever Hayarden" would only be used by someone writing the text and physically sitting on the opposite side of where the action is taking place. So if the writer calls the east bank “Ever Hayarden” then obviously he was standing on the west bank when he wrote these words. And that makes sense for the hypothesis that Devarim was written by a resident of the land. He would refer to Moshe, who at the time was on the east bank as being at Ever Hayardein. (Obviouly the author didn't realize he was giving himself away at the time he write it, or maybe he didn't think that his text would be attributed to God or Moshe by later generations.)
2. The places listed in the text are not mentioned anywhere else in Nach.
3. The next oddity in this verse (and also in the rest of the core of Devarim) is that the most important geographic name in Chumash, i.e. Sinai, is missing. This verse, as throughout the narratives in D, always calls the mountain Choreb.
4. This is our first contradiction. As Rashi points out and calculates from the text in the prior account, (Num 10:11) it actually only took the Israelites three days to travel from Sinai/Khoreb to Kadesh, an obvious contradiction to the verse here, that specifies a travel time of eleven days.
Note: The commentaries reconcile this by saying that although the actual distance between these two points as measured by a normal travel time is eleven days, and that, by a miracle the Israelites accomplished this trip in only three days. But one would expect that such a miracle would be have been reported.
Deut 1:6-8 In these verses we find several minor points of difference worth mentioning and one outright contradiction to other texts in Chumash.
5. Nothing that resembles the quote in verse 6 appears previously, anywhere.
6. The name “Amorite mountain”, as a place name is never mentioned previously.
Some commentators say it is not a place name but it refers to the mountainous region wherein the Amorites dwelled. Still it is unique to Devarim.
7. Neither the name Lebanon nor the Euphrates is found anywhere in the previous wilderness passages. .
8. Contradiction: the text seems to imply here the Euphrates River is to become one of the borders of the Promised Land. However the borders of the future Land of Israel had already been delineated in Num 34:1-15 and the territory of Israel as defined in that text clearly was not to extend so far east.
Deut 1:9-18 Appointment of Elders and Judges
Verses 1:9-18 provide the first repeated event in the wilderness experience that is retold in Deut. And it appears to correspond to the incident that resulted in Moshe appointing judges and leaders to assist him in his leadership and adjudication roles. The corresponding passage for this is found in Ex. 18:13-27.
9. Before comparing the passages between Deut & Ex., it is important to note the text of verse 1:9 I said to you at the time, saying “I cannot carry you alone”…… The phraseology in this verse is also found in Num. 11:14, which apparently is a different incident, implying that the passages here in Deut. is likely a confluence of 2 separate events.
In any case, assuming that Moshe here is referring to the incident of the appointment of judges in Exodus, and comparing the text in D with Ex 18:13-27, we find the following notable differences:
10. In D, Moshe recognizes (on his own) that he needs help in his leadership role and in administering justice for the people. In Ex., it is Yitro that brings it to Moshe’s attention.
11. In D, Moshe recommends to the people to appoint “Shoftim” (translated as judges or tribal leaders) and “Shotrim” (translated as officers). Yitro is not mentioned in the narrative at all. In Ex., Yitro recommends to Moshe to appoint “Shoftim” (translated as judges or tribal leaders) with certain leadership capabilities. No mention is made of tribal officers (“shotrim”)
12. In D, The people agree to the plan. In Ex., no mention is made that the people are consulted.
13. The qualifications for being selected are defined quite differently.
14. In D, Moshe instructs the new judges. In Ex., no instructions are given.
Deut 1:19 As Hashem our God, commanded us and we came to Kadesh-barnea.
15. Since the text that follows this passage is the story of the spies, which was likely initiated from outside the Land, it would appear then, that the place name Kadesh-barnea mentioned here is outside the territory of Israel. This contradicts Num 34:4 which situates Kadesh-Barnea inside the future boundaries of the Land.
Deut 1:22-44: The Spies
This passage now has moshe retelling the mission of the 12 spies. While the basic elements parallel the previous depiction in Num. 13-14, a closer reading easily reveals several seeming contradictions, dozens of details that don’t match, as well as omission of elements that are important yet not retold.
16. In Devarim, the Mission is proposed by the People to Moshe vs by God in the Numbers-version.
17. In Devarim, the scope and purpose of mission is more limited (seems only a military scouting party) vs a more extensive tour in purpose and territory to be covered in the Numbers-version.
18. In Devarim, the definition of the mission in (Hebrew) va-yachperu and then later va-yeraglu (Deut. 1:24) vs v’yesuru (likely means different purposes)
19. In Devarim, the conscripts are 12 seemingly ordinary men vs 12 “distinguished men/leaders”. This prominence is emphasized in the text twice and the individuals are named giving them even more prominence.
20. In Devarim, the actual destination and itinerary is stated that the spies ascended the “Mountain” (likely, Har Emori) until arriving at Nachal Eshkol. The text seems to imply only one destination. The text in Numbers seems to imply that the spies covered at least five territories.
21. Upon return, the recipient of the spies’ report is the people, vs Moses and Aaron in Numbers.
22. In Devarim, the sequence of events upon the spies’ return is very different in detail from the version in Numbers.
23. In the Post episode war, the Israelites are beaten by the Amorites vs by Canaanites and Amalekites in Numbers.
- In addition there are several important elements in the Numbers-version that are omitted in Devarim:
24. Aaron is ignored in Devarim (which is consistent with all of Devarim)
25. Joshua is not mentioned in Devarim as one of the spies
26. The post incident plague is not mentioned in Devarim
27. In Devarim no mention is made that God wanted to destroy the people
28. In fact Moshe’s entire dialogue with God post incident, is not even referenced.
Deut 1:37 has Moshe saying: “with me as well, God became angry because of you saying: you too shall not come there”.
So it is quite clear that because Moshe sent the spies he will be punished with not getting to lead the people into the Land.
29. This statement is not in the Numbers version.
30. This statement is overtly contradicted by Num 20:12 which tells us that Moshe's punishment of not entering the Land was because of the hitting the rock to extract water 38 years later.
31. Numbers 3 and 4 describe the separation of the Levites for the priesthood and temple service (including care of the ark of testimony) while the Israelites were camped at Mt. Sinai in the second year after the exodus, but Deut 10:7-8 claims that the separation of the Levites occurred at a place called Jotbathah: "From thence they journeyed unto Gudgodah; and from Gudgodah to Jotbathah, a land of brooks of water. At that time Jehovah set apart the tribe of Levi, to bear the ark of the covenant of Jehovah, to stand before Jehovah to minister unto him, and to bless in his name, unto this day."
32. Deut 10:6 records the death of Aaron, who died "in the fortieth year after the children of Israel were come out of the land of Egypt" (Num. 33:38); hence, this passage also claims that the separation of the Levites took place 38 years after the account in Numbers 3 and 4.
Deut. 2:2-8 The encounter with descendants of Esau
The Seir region was populated by the descendants of Esau, who is also called Edom. Thus, this passage would seem to correspond to the report of the event as given in Num 20:14-21.
There are several differences and some, albeit minor, contradictions.
33. In D, Moshe says God told him …, in N there is no mention that God told Moshe anything concerning Seir and the text seems to indicate that Moshe acted on his own initiative.
34. In D, there is a specific command from God not to antagonize Edom (i.e. Seir). There is no such directive in N.
35. In D, the text says “they will fear you”, while in N it is clear that the Israelites are the ones that fear Edom. The text clearly says that the Edomites chased off the B"Y.
36. In D, God advises Moshe to request passage and the purchase of provisions, while in N, Moshe (no mention of advice from God) asks the king simply for passage promising not to touch anything, but later promises to pay for any damages.
Deut 2:10-25 The encounter with Moab and Ammon
Moshe recalls a warning that God gives him about BY not harassing Moab and Ammon. Differences are:
37. There is no such incident in the earlier part of Chumash, except a short verse (Num 21:24) that states that BY stayed away from Ammon because they were deemed too strong.
38. The contradictory nature of this passage is that in D, God talks about a friendly relation with Moab, in total contrast to the problems B"Y had with Moab. See Num. chapters 22-24.
Deut 2:26-37 The War with Sihon (& the Amorites)
This appears to correspond to Num 21:21. The stories are very similar.
The details provide in the comparative passages have some minor differences, enough to be notable, although not necessarily contradictory.
39. In D the text goes out of its way to describe the destruction and the booty as a result of the war. There is no indication of any specific booty mentioned in the N version, except to say that the Israelites won the battle and occupied the land controlled by Sihon.
Deut 3:1-7 The War with Og (& the Amorites)
Moshe recounts the victorious battle against Og and his Amorite people. This corresponds to the event and passage as given in Num. 21:33-35. The text in D (verses 1 to 3) parallels very closely the text as given in Numbers. But as in every other “repeated” section in D, there are minor variations.
40. Moshe elaborates a little more on the events and provides additional details (verse 5 to 11), particularly mentioning some very odd observations about Og.
41. In Num. 32:34 it says that Aroer was built by the tribe of Gad after the land was captured from the Amorites.
Deut 3:21-22 says I commanded Joshua at that time, saying, “your eyes have seen everything that Hashem , your God, has done to these two kings, so will Hashem do to all the kings where you cross over. You shall not fear them, your God – He will wage war for you"
42. In the corresponding accounts as given in Num. 27:18, it is at this point that God, in response to Moshe’s complaint about leaving the people leaderless, tells Moshe to formally appoint Joshua to succeed him. This "induction ceremony” is not mentioned in D.
43. On the other hand, D doesn’t recount the great victory that the Israelites had over the Midianites, after the Bilaam incident (Num. 31:1-12), and just prior to Moshe’s demise. The text (Deut. 4:3) does, however, recall the punishment that the Israelites received for worshipping the “Baal Peor” , the incident that provoked the war with Midianites.
44. Also, D does not indicate here why God was angry at Moses “At that time”.
Deut 3:26-29 Hashem said to me, “It is too much for you! Do not continue to speak to Me further about this matter. Ascend to the top of the cliff……But you shall command Joshua etc.
These verses, together with the three earlier ones, seem to correspond to a similar conversation that Moshe has with God, found in (Num. 27:12-23). The basic content of these comparative passages is the same.
Because Moshe is not destined to enter Eretz Canaan, God tells Moshe to go up to some heights to be able to view the Land, and that Joshua will become the new leader of the people. This dialogue is followed by the formal appointment of Joshua as leader.
However, when examining the details of the event and the language at least seven differences are readily found:
45. Moshe pleads with God to let him see the Promised Land. (Moshe uses the term “Good Land”, terminology never found in the ROC. ) No such pleading is reported in the ROC.
46. Moshe says that God was angry at him because of the people. However, no reason is given. God reminds Moshe that he “rebelled” against God at Meribah, the well-water incident.
47. Note that this is a possible internal D contradiction with 1:37.
48. Moshe reports that at that time God admonished him not to make this request ever again. No such admonishment is mentioned
49. God instructs Moshe to go up the mountain of Abarim to view the land.
No mention of any complaint by Moshe of potentially “leaderless” people..
50. Moshe complains to God that if he is to die soon, the people will be left without a “shepherd”.
God instructs Moshe to appoint Joshua as his successor. The language used to describe this aspect of the story differs substantively from that in found in Numbers.
51. No mention is made of Elazar’s involvement (consistent with D’s desire to minimize the importance of the Kehuna and the Ohel Mo-ed). Elazar (the High Priest) and Moshe, anoint Joshua as leader in/near the Ohel Mo-ed.
Deut. 4:10 to 4:13 Revelation at Sinai and the Decalogue
Moshe describes the lead up to “matan Torah”, corresponding to Ex. 19. The depiction has a few differences.
52. The elaborate preparation depicted in Ex. is left out.
53. The description of the mountain in Deut 4:11 is different than in Ex.
Deut 4:12 “Hashem spoke to you from the midst of the fire”.
54. This latter phrase is repeated often in D, as is not found in Ex.
Deut 4:21 “Hashem became angry with me because of you, and He swore that I would not cross the Jordan”
55. As this verse is part of a continuation of text re-telling events at Sinai, a literal reading implies that God became angry at Moshe because of the events at Sinai. No such characterization is found anywhere else.
Deut. 4:41-42 Sanctuary Cities
Moshe sets aside aside three cities on the bank of the Jordan as safe heaven for person accused of accidental murder.
56. The sudden digression and placement of these verses is odd and the text switches from first-person Moshe to third-person Moshe
57. This passage contradicts text in the Book of Joshua (20:7) that says Joshua built these cities.
Deut. 5:6 to 5:17 The Decalogue
Moshe here repeats the “Ten Words (Aseret Hadibrot)”.
58. The text in D of the Aseret Hadibrot has over one dozen variations from the same text in Exodus 20 with only one (the reason for keeping Shabbat) of these dissimilarities having possibly any substantive meaning. Which text was the official version kept in the "Aron"?
Deut: 6:22. Moshe reminds the people of the wonderous escape from Egypt.
59. Oddity. No mention of the famous Ten Plagues is found in D.
Deut 7:1 Moshe mentions the nations of that will be displaced in the Promised land.
60. Moshe lists 7 nations here. Everywhere else in the Chumash, the textual list is only six nations
Deut. 8:2 “You shall remember the entire road on which Hashem, your God, led you these forty years in the Wilderness so as to afflict you, to test you, to know what is in your heart, whether you would observe His commandments or not.
61. This passage seems to contradict Num. 14 , which clearly states that the journey in the desert for forty years was as a punishment for the lack of trust in God during the incident of the “Twelve Spies”.
Deut. 9:8 to 9:21 The Golden Calf
Generally the passage in D is quite similar (for a change) in terminologies and details. However, there are a few important differences. The major ones that differ from the depiction in Ex. 32 are:
62. Nowhere does it state in the D version that the B"Y actually worshiped (bowed and offered up sacrifices) the calf.
63. Aaron’s role is left out (consistent with D’s ignoring him almost completely in the entire book), except to mention that Moshe prayed for him, but for why is not stated.
64. Role of tribe of levi is not reported.
65. The punishing plague, post incident, is not mentioned. This is consistent with D never mentioning divine “plagues” as punishments in contradistinction to the rest of Chumash having at least a half dozens plagues inflicted on B"Y.
66. Moshe's dialogue with God is hardly recounted.
Deut 10:1-3 The Cedar wood Ark
Moshe builds an ark to house the tablets of Aseret Hadibrot. This is one of the most remarkable contradiction to the rest of Chumash.
67. Absolutely no mention is made in Devarim of the elaborate construction of the Sanctuary and particularly of the gold plated ark to house the tablets.
68. Nowhere is it reported in Exodus that Moshe built such a "simple" ark.
Deut 10:6 “The children of Israel journeyed from Beeroth-bene-jaakan to Moseroah”
69. Text contradicts Num 33:31.
Deut 10:4 “And what he did to the army of Egypt, to its horses and its riders, over whom He swept the waters of Sea of Reeds when they pursued you”.
70. Why does Moshe not mention the splitting of the Sea?
Deut 10:6 “And what he did to Dathan and Aviram the sons of Eliab, when the earth opened its mouth wide and swallowed them, and their households, and their tents”.
71. The rebellion of Korach (Num. 16:1 to 17:15) and Datan and Aviram is one of the longest passages about any particular episode in the Chumash. Yet the story receives only a passing reference in D.
72. In N the entire incident is reported as being mostly instigated and led by Korakh. Why is there no mention of Korakh when recalling the event?