“The Editor Was Nodding” A Reading of Leviticus 19 in Memory of Mary Douglas
Moshe Kline
chaver.com

Abstract

Leviticus 19 was constructed as a true table consisting of two columns and five rows. The columns are inverted parallels; one is ordered from positive to negative and the other from negative to positive. The rows are ordered according to the degree of God’s connection to the specific laws. The five by two table is based on the author’s reading of the Exodus 20 Decalogue as five consecutive pairs according to the division into ten Words that appears in the MT. This arrangement of the Decalogue is “quoted” in Leviticus 19.

… critics will not be convinced unless the alleged parallelism is supported by verbal evidence, such as marking the structural units by the exact repetitions which had led earlier students to suppose the editor was nodding.1

Introduction

Previous Readings

In a recent book, Christophe Nihan has succinctly summarized research on Leviticus 19:

The apparent heterogeneity of the various prescriptions and prohibitions grouped in Leviticus 19, as well as the absence of a clear framework, have traditionally led commentators to dispute the chapter’s literary coherence. In general, they assumed instead that this text was an assortment of laws from various origins. Alternatively, because of the manifest similarity of some laws with the Decalogue, form critics surmised that Leviticus 19 originated in a series of “decalogues” or even “dodecalogues”, the identification of which, however, was always disputed. Recent research on Leviticus 19 has tended to reject these two approaches as methodologically unsupported and has resumed instead the search for a comprehensive structure in this chapter, even though no consensus has been reached so far on this point either.2

Nihan conveniently divides the approaches to Leviticus 19 into three general groups: 1) those who consider it formless, 2) those who consider it based on a decalogue structure, 3) those who still seek a comprehensive structure. Noth could be considered a spokesperson for the first group. He considers the chapter “a codex of regulations mostly concerned with daily life and its different circumstances and activities. In its transmitted form, this codex is indeed remarkably diverse and disordered.”3 Gorman seems to echo Noth: “Leviticus 19 consists of a series of miscellaneous instructions.”4 We will deal extensively with Decalogue and decalogue issues in the fourth section of this paper.5 For now, we can note that Schwartz has adequately countered the various D/decalogue arguments.6 As for the third group, to which this study belongs, the linchpin for identifying the structure of Leviticus 19 in recent studies is the formulaic usage of the divine first-person revelation.

Wenham appears to be the first to identify the formula as a key for defining the structure of the chapter. In 1979 he wrote:

This chapter covers such a variety of topics that the modern reader finds difficulty in seeing any rhyme or reason in its organization. But once it is recognized that ‘I am the Lord (your God)’ marks the end of a paragraph, its structure becomes much clearer. The chapter falls into sixteen paragraphs, arranged in three sections (4, 4, 8) … The first section (vv. 2b–10) consists of four paragraphs, each concluding with the motive clause ‘I am the Lord your God.’ The second section (vv. 11–18), also of four paragraphs each concluding with ‘I am the lord,’ is more tightly structured and builds up to a climax in ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’ (v. 18). The third section is longer and uses both ‘I am the Lord’ and ‘I am the Lord your God’ as a refrain.7

Wenham divides the chapter into sixteen units, according to the closing formula, which fall into three blocks: religious duties, 1–4; ethical duties, 5–8; miscellaneous duties, 9–16. He further notes that units 1–4 end with “I am the Lord,” while 5–8 end with the longer form “I am the Lord your God.” In other words, the units containing religious duties have a different closing formula than the units containing ethical duties. The miscellaneous units have a mixture of the two endings. The fact that the first eight units display a correlation between content and closing formula suggests that the pattern may be significant in the structure of the chapter. Magonet also uses the formula to divide the text into components, but comes up with a different, and less satisfying, arrangement.8 Both Schwartz and Milgrom agree that Wenham’s second group is an organic section, but they dismiss his overall plan because in their view the formula does not mark the ends of all the units in Leviticus 19.9 Milgrom concludes: “Thus the units in this chapter are to be decided strictly by their content.”10 In this article, I will explore the alternative that Milgrom and Schwartz rejected, that Wenham was right and that the ending formula does in fact determine the units of the chapter.

I will present an integrated reading of the whole of Leviticus 19 based on the formula divisions. As Douglas pointed out, division by literary device is a priori preferable to division by fiat: “Everything depends on how clearly the units of structure are identified.”11 One must make every attempt to understand the author’s devices before denying their significance. (I will demonstrate in the course of this paper that the literary complexity of the text indicates that we should consider it authored rather than edited or redacted.) Regarding content divisions, we might add from Douglas: “Semantic structures give a great deal of scope for arbitrary and subjective patternings … critics will not be convinced unless the alleged parallelism is supported by verbal evidence, such as marking the structural units by the exact repetitions which had led earlier students to suppose the editor was nodding.”12 Chapter 19 is replete with such repetitions, for example “keep my Sabbaths” in vv. 3 and 30; “fear your God” vv. 14 and 32; “You shall not do injustice in judgment” vv. 15 and 35. The solution that I will present accounts for these repetitions, and others, as part of the plan of the chapter.

The Plan

I have divided the analysis into five sections. In the first section, I will demonstrate that the first eight units consist of two blocks of four units each, as indicated by Wenham. I will add to his reading that the two blocks form inverted parallels. Each of the blocks contains a progression of ideas from unit to unit. In one block, the progression is from good to bad, while the progression in the other block is the opposite, from bad to good. In the second section, I will analyze the last seven units according to Wenham’s division, which are six units according to my reading. I have combined his unit 15, (v. 36) and 16 (v.37) because v. 36 lacks the closing formula, which appears at the end of v. 37. I will demonstrate that the six units divide into two parallel blocks of three units each. Each block of three is closely connected to one of the blocks of four units by a set of linguistic hooks. When each of the three-unit blocks is appended to its similar four-unit block, it continues the progression identified in the first section. I will conclude that the underlying structure of the chapter consists of two parallel seven-unit blocks that create inverse conceptual progressions.

Block L
Organized from Good to Bad

Block R
Organized from Bad to Good

1

5

2

6

3

7

4

8

10

13

11

14

12

15

The third section is devoted to a close reading of the two seven-unit blocks. This reading reveals an additional level of organization within the chapter, a level that cannot be seen until the two seven unit blocks are examined in parallel. I will show that the two parallel blocks are composed of five consecutive textual pairs.

Pair

A

1

5

B

2

6

C

3

7

D

4

8

E

10
11
12

13
14
15

Each of the five pairs exhibits both a structural parallel and a content parallel. The two parallels reinforce each other and create similar progressions from pair to pair. The structural parallels create a process of separation from pair to pair by progressing in stages from inseparable internal elements in pair A, to fully articulated and separated internal elements in pair E. The parallel conceptual progression flows from an inseparable link with God in pair A to a total separation from God in pair E.

As can be seen in the above table, there are two different types of pericopes in the five-pair structure. Units 1–8 appear in pairs A–D as originally identified by Wenham; each original unit is a structural unit. However, in pair E each structural unit is composed of three original units. For the sake of clarity, I will hereafter use the term “unit” to refer to one of the ten parts of the five-pair structure. I will reserve the term “pericope” for the three subdivisions of each unit in pair E and will use the following marking scheme throughout:

Pair

L

R

A

AL (1)

AR (5)

B

BL (2)

BR (6)

C

CL (3)

CR (7)

D

DL (4)

DR (8)

E

EL

ELa (10)
ELb (11)
ELc (12)

ER

ERa (13)
ERb (14)
ERc (15)

The pairs are marked A–E and the columns are marked L(eft) and R(ight). The pericopes of unit E are marked a–c.

No reading of chapter 19 is complete without considering the significance of elements of the Decalogue that appear in this chapter. In section four, I will explain the relationship between the pieces of the “shattered tablets” found in this chapter and the ten-part structure consisting of five pairs, which appear to be carved in stone. The explanation is based on a new arrangement of the ten parts of the Exodus 20 Decalogue utilizing the MT division. I will show that the Decalogue was read by the author of Leviticus 19 as a document consisting of five consecutive pairs according to the MT division, and that Leviticus 19 is based on this arrangement. A unique unit consisting of verses 19b–26, unit [9], separates the two large divisions of the chapter, the first eight units and the last two. I will treat this unit separately in section five.

1. The Structure of the First Eight Units

Table 1 The First Eight Units

L

R

AL

א וידבר יהוה אל משה לאמר

ב דבר אל כל עדת בני ישראל ואמרת אלהם

קדשים תהיו כי קדוש אני יהוה אלהיכם

AR

יא לא תגנבו ולא תכחשו ולא תשקרו איש בעמיתו

יב ולא תשבעו בשמי לשקר וחללת את שם אלהיך אני יהוה

BL

ג איש אמו ואביו תיראו

ואת שבתתי תשמרו

אני יהוה אלהיכם

BR

יג לא תעשק את רעך ולא תגזל לא תלין פעלת שכיר אתך עד בקר

יד לא תקלל חרש ולפני עור לא תתן מכשל

ויראת מאלהיך אני יהוה

CL

ד אל תפנו אל האלילים ואלהי מסכה לא תעשו לכם אני יהוה אלהיכם

CR

טו לא תעשו עול במשפט לא תשא פני דל ולא תהדר פני גדול בצדק תשפט עמיתך

טז לא תלך רכיל בעמיך לא תעמד על דם רעך אני יהוה

DL

(a) ה וכי תזבחו זבח שלמים ליהוה לרצנכם תזבחהו

ו ביום זבחכם יאכל וממחרת והנותר עד יום השלישי באש ישרף

ז ואם האכל יאכל ביום השלישי פגול הוא לא ירצה

ח ואכליו עונו ישא כי את קדש יהוה חלל ונכרתה הנפש ההוא מעמיה

(b) ט ובקצרכם את קציר ארצכם לא תכלה פאת שדך לקצר ולקט קצירך לא תלקט

י וכרמך לא תעולל ופרט כרמך לא תלקט לעני ולגר תעזב אתם אני יהוה אלהיכם

DR

(a) יז לא תשנא את אחיך בלבבך הוכח תוכיח את עמיתך ולא תשא עליו חטא

יח לא תקם ולא תטר את בני עמך ואהבת לרעך כמוך אני יהוה

(b) יט את חקתי תשמרו

AL

1The Lord spoke to Moses, saying: 2Speak to the whole Israelite community and say to them: You shall be holy, for I, the Lord your God, am holy.

AR

11You shall not steal; you shall not deal deceitfully or falsely with one another. 12You shall not swear falsely by My name, profaning the name of your God: I am the Lord.

BL

3You shall each revere his mother and his father, and keep My sabbaths: I the Lord am your God.

BR

13You shall not defraud your neighbor. You shall not commit robbery. The wages of a laborer shall not remain with you until morning. 14You shall not insult the deaf, or place a stumbling block before the blind. You shall fear your God: I am the Lord.

CL

4Do not turn to idols or make molten gods for yourselves: I the Lord am your God.

CR

15You shall not render an unfair decision: do not favor the poor or show deference to the rich; judge your neighbor fairly. 16Do not deal basely with your countrymen. Do not profit by the blood of your fellow: I am the Lord.

DL

(a) 5When you sacrifice an offering of well-being to the Lord, sacrifice it so that it may be accepted on your behalf. 6It shall be eaten on the day you sacrifice it, or on the day following; but what is left by the third day must be consumed in fire. 7If it should be eaten on the third day, it is an offensive thing, it will not be acceptable. 8And he who eats of it shall bear his guilt, for he has profaned what is sacred to the Lord; that person shall be cut off from his kin. (b) 9When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap all the way to the edges of your field, or gather the gleanings of your harvest. 10You shall not pick your vineyard bare, or gather the fallen fruit of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the poor and the stranger: I the Lord am your God.

DR

(a) 17You shall not hate your brother in your heart. Reprove your fellow but incur no guilt because of him. 18You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against your countrymen. Love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord. (b) 19You shall observe My laws.

I have arranged the first eight units in two columns. The translation is the NJPSV, with a few changes that will be noted. The first four units, AL–DL, appear in the left, L, column and the next four, AR–DR, in the right column, R. The four units on the left close with the formula אני יהוה אלהיכם‎ (“I the Lord am your God”), and the four on the right close יהוה אני‎ (“I am the Lord”). There is another formal element, not reported by Wenham, which appears in the columns, in addition to the ending formulae. Allbee notes that all of the units in column R begin with לא‎ (“You shall not”).13 None of the units in column L begins with this word. Therefore, the units are locked into the columns both by their openings and by their closings.

I have made only one change to Wenham’s divisions. I have placed v.19a, תשמרו חקתי את‎ (“You shall observe My laws”), at the end of unit DR rather than at the beginning of unit [9]. This placement makes unit DR the structural parallel of unit DL. Both of these units now have two apparently independent elements, a and b. In both cases the second element appears to be out of place, since the content of each “b” element seems more appropriate to the opposite column. I will deal with this point at greater length later.

In the following discussion as well as in other sections of this analysis, the closing formula is not considered part of the unit proper, with the exception of unit AL. Therefore, we can say, for example, that God does not appear in units CL and CR. I have given the columns the headings “usually suggested” according to Milgrom, “religious duties” on the left and “ethical duties” on the right.14 Even a cursory examination can reveal one of the reasons why Milgrom ultimately rejected these categories. The left column contains איש אמו ואביו תיראו‎ (“You shall each revere his mother and his father”), and לעני ולגר תעזב אתם‎ (“you shall leave them for the poor and the stranger”). Both of these are more “ethical” than “religious”. In the right column, we find וחללת את שם אלהיך‎ (“profaning the name of your God”) and ויראת מאלהיך‎ (“You shall fear your God”). What makes these “ethical” rather than “religious”? Is there, then, any justification for classifying the two groups of four units by these, or any other, categories?

The author has used obvious and redundant rhetorical devices, the opening and closing formulae, in order to divide the first eight units into two groups of four, so we should make an effort to determine whether the distinction is meaningful. There is clearly a difference between the contents of the groups, even if not exactly according to the proposed dyad. Matters of ritual appear only in the left-hand column. Antisocial behaviors appear only in the right-hand column. Therefore, we can see that there is an apparent content distinction, parallel to the rhetorical distinctions, and that it does have some connection to the dyad “religious” and “ethical”. By looking more closely at the exceptions to these two classes of “duties”, we will be able to describe the distinction between the groups more clearly.

The two significant exceptions to the rule of “religious” in L are leaving the gleanings for the poor and reverence of parents. Both of these are limited private acts. Concerning the gleanings, the text says, לעני ולגר תעזב אתם‎ (“you shall leave them for the poor and the stranger”). They are not given to the poor; they must be left for the poor to pick for themselves. The owner of the field is required to leave something in the field when he/she harvests. Therefore, there is no direct contact with an “other” besides parents in column L. This observation sharpens the distinction between the columns. After taking into account the apparent exceptions, we can modify the subject of column L to “private acts” as opposed to the civil concerns of R. This is reinforced by the exceptions in R.

There are references to God in three of the units of column R: AR,ולא תשבעו בשמי לשקר וחללת את שם אלהיך‎ (“You shall not swear falsely by My name, profaning the name of your God”); BR, ויראת מאלהיך‎ (“You shall fear your God”); DR, את חקתי תשמרו‎ (“You shall observe My laws”) None of these mentions rituals or worship. They all relate to God as the ultimate guarantor of social order. So, despite the apparent exceptions, we can say that the columns do indeed differ from each other in content and demonstrate two opposite fields of experience, private and public. We will soon see that there are even more satisfying relationships to be found between the columns than just a simple classification of the laws contained in them.

The Right Column: Formal Progression

Wenham has noted that there is a progression built into the units of the right-hand column.15 He bases the progression on the use of relational terms such as; עמיתו‎, רעך‎ and אחיך‎. Each unit in column R contains such expressions.

Table 2. Relational Terms in Column R

Unit

Number of relational terms in unit

Relational Terms in Order of Appearance

אחיך

brother

עמית

fellow

עמיך

countrymen

רעך

neighbor

שכיר

laborer

AR

1

בעמיתו

BR

2

רעך

שכיר

CR

3

עמיתך

עמיך

רעך

DR

4

אחיך

עמיתך

בני עמיך

רעך

The relational terms, as identified by Wenham, appear in the above table, with one addition. I have added שכיר‎ (“laborer” hired hand) from BR because it too is a relational term. As a result, we can see that there is indeed a progression from AR to DR. Each successive unit adds a term and the order of the terms is maintained throughout the four units. In effect, the units of this block are numbered by the relational terms: the first, AR, has one; the second, BR, has two, etc.

Conceptual Progression

Schwartz and Milgrom, who have noted this progression, have not been able to explain it as a significant element in the plan of Leviticus 19. We will see that the “missing link” is found when we observe a similar phenomenon in the first block of four units, L. Both blocks contain a progression from unit to unit. The importance of the progression of relational terms in R is that it provides a formal verification of the conceptual flow from AR to DR.

Unit

Content

AR

לא תגנבו … ולא תשבעו בשמי לשקר וחללת את שם אלהיך

You shall not steal … You shall not swear falsely by My name, profaning the name of your God

BR

ולפני עור לא תתן מכשל

You shall not … place a stumbling block before the blind

CR

בצדק תשפט עמיתך

judge your neighbor fairly

DR

ואהבת לרעך כמוך

Love your neighbor as yourself

The first unit, AR, warns against criminal behaviors לא תגנבו‎ (“You shall not steal”), and concludes with the desecration of God’s name. The fourth unit, DR, contains proactive relationships with another, reaching a peak with ואהבת לרעך כמוך‎ (“Love your neighbor as yourself”). There is a transition from avoiding criminal antisocial behavior, to having positive relationships with others. The two intermediate units, BR and CR, contain transitional stages. Unit BR is similar to AR in that it proscribes actions that can damage another. However, there is no explicit warning that these actions can lead to the desecration of God’s name, as in AR. Unit CR is the first in this column to require a positive act: בצדק תשפט עמיתך‎ (“judge your neighbor fairly”). Nonetheless, this act is limited to a judge. Only unit DR contains a positive act demanded of every individual ואהבת לרעך כמוך‎ (“Love your neighbor as yourself”). There is a continuous gradient from the negative to the positive:

AR: avoid criminal behavior that can lead to desecrating God’s name

BR: avoid causing damage to others

CR: judge fairly

DR: be proactive: reprove, love

We can summarize this initial investigation of units AR–DR as follows:

The Left Column

Let us look now at column L. Once we have noticed that there is a progression within column R, we are led to investigate whether there exists a similar phenomenon in column L. Unit AL begins with God’s desire for people to identify with Him and share His quality of holiness: קדשים תהיו כי קדוש אני‎ (“You shall be holy, for I am holy”) This relationship is very similar to identifying with the “other” in DR, ואהבת לרעך כמוך‎ (“Love your neighbor as yourself”). In AL the individual is commanded to be like another, God. In DR he is told to consider that another is like him. While the perspective changes, the relationship, being like another, is consistent. The similarity is reinforced by a structural similarity between AL and DR.

Both AL and DR differ from the other units structurally. In AL, the closing formula, אני יהוה אלהיכם‎ (“I the Lord am your God”), is a necessary part of the content of the unit, כי קדוש אני יהוה אלהיכם‎, (“for I, the Lord your God, am holy”). This is the reason to be holy. The words of the closing formula are part of the content of the unit. This is not true in any of the other units. In all of them, the closing formula is an appendix. This makes the first unit unique. Unit DR is also unique. If the closing formula is an appendix, unit DR has a “super appendix”, an addition after an addition, את חקתי תשמרו‎ (“You shall observe My laws”). Properly speaking, unit AL has no appendix, since the closing phrase is part of its content, while DR has two appendices. In this way, the two units complement each other structurally in a manner similar to the complimentary relationships between people and God in AL, and between people and their fellows in DR. In the course of this investigation, we will see that the intense use of formal structure to complement conceptual relationships is the hallmark of Leviticus 19.

The structural link and content similarity between AL and DR indicate that we could be looking at half of a chiasm between the two columns. This is verified in DL, כי את קדש יהוה חלל‎ (“for he has profaned what is sacred to the Lord”), which parallels AR וחללת את שם אלהיך‎ (“profaning the name of your God”). The chiasm created by the first and last units in each column may indicate that opposite processes take place in the two columns. We have characterized the process in column R as graded from negative to positive. If the process in L is the opposite, it would be graded from positive to negative. This is verified by examining the contents of AL–DL.

Unit

Content

AL

דבר אל כל עדת בני ישראל ואמרת אלהם קדשים תהיו כי קדוש אני

Speak to the whole Israelite community and say to them: You shall be holy, for I, the Lord your God, am holy.

BL

איש אמו ואביו תיראו ואת שבתתי תשמרו

You shall each revere his mother and his father, and keep My sabbaths

CL

אל תפנו אל האלילים ואלהי מסכה לא תעשו לכם

Do not turn to idols or make molten gods for yourselves

DL

כי את קדש יהוה חלל ונכרתה הנפש ההוא מעמיה

for he has profaned what is sacred to the Lord; that person shall be cut off from his kin

Unit AL begins with the entire community uniting through divine holiness. An isolated individual who is cut off for having desecrated the holy appears in the last unit, DL, ונכרתה … מעמיה‎ (“cut off from his kin”). In the middle are two stages of separation from AL כל עדת בני ישראל‎ (“the whole Israelite community”): BL איש אמו ואביו תיראו‎ (“You shall each revere his mother and his father”), and CL ואלהי מסכה לא תעשו לכם‎ (“Do not make molten gods for yourselves”). The first level of division, into families, is positive. The second level, creating private gods, is negative. This creates a gradient from positive/group to negative/individual, in a manner similar but opposite to the gradient that we noted in column R. Thus the chiasm between columns L and R is reflected in opposite processes that take place in the columns; in L there is a negative process of separation or individualization and in R a positive process of drawing closer to humanity, socialization of the individual.

We can now begin to appreciate the literary skill of the author. While Schwartz had noted that column R contained a progression in the number of relational terms, he had no explanation for why this progression existed. We can now see how this progression is consistent with other observations we have made, especially the chiastic relationship with column L, which contains a process of separation or individualization. We noted that the contents of units AR–DR indicated a positive process of drawing closer to others, socialization. These units, AR–DR, demonstrate the same process by increasing the number of relational terms from unit to unit. They become more “sociable”! If the correlation between the flow of content from unit to unit and the parallel increase in relational terms is intentional, we are looking at an extraordinarily sophisticated composition, a work of great artfulness and beauty.

The author has used literary devices, the closing formula reinforced by the openings, to differentiate between two equal blocks of text, each containing four units. By separating the blocks according to the formula and comparing them, the reader discovers that the two blocks are apparently inverted parallels. Therefore, any exegesis of Leviticus 19 as a literary document should explore these eight units as a highly contrived and well-integrated structure.

Summary of Characteristics of the First Eight Units:

Formal

Content

Developmental

Combined content and developmental

2. Analysis of the Last Six Pericopes, Pair E

ELa

כו לא תאכלו על הדם לא תנחשו ולא תעוננו

כז לא תקפו פאת ראשכם ולא תשחית את פאת זקנך

כח ושרט לנפש לא תתנו בבשרכם וכתבת קעקע לא תתנו בכם אני יהוה

ERa

לב מפני שיבה תקום והדרת פני זקן ויראת מאלהיך אני יהוה פ

ELb

כט אל תחלל את בתך להזנותה ולא תזנה הארץ ומלאה הארץ זמה

ל את שבתתי תשמרו ומקדשי תיראו אני יהוה

ERb

לג וכי יגור אתך גר בארצכם לא תונו אתו

לד כאזרח מכם יהיה לכם הגר הגר אתכם ואהבת לו כמוך כי גרים הייתם בארץ מצרים אני יהוה אלהיכם

ELc

לא אל תפנו אל האבת ואל הידענים אל תבקשו לטמאה בהם אני יהוה אלהיכם

ERc

לה לא תעשו עול במשפט במדה במשקל ובמשורה

לו מאזני צדק אבני צדק איפת צדק והין צדק יהיה לכם אני יהוה אלהיכם אשר הוצאתי אתכם מארץ מצרים

לז ושמרתם את כל חקתי ואת כל משפטי ועשיתם אתם אני יהוה פ

ELa

26You shall not eat anything with its blood. You shall not practice divination or soothsaying. 27You shall not round off the side-growth on your head, or destroy the side-growth of your beard. 28You shall not make gashes in your flesh for the dead, or incise any marks on yourselves: I am the Lord.

ERa

32You shall rise before the aged and show deference to the old; you shall fear your God: I am the Lord.

ELb

29Do not degrade your daughter and make her a harlot, lest the land fall into harlotry and the land be filled with depravity. 30You shall keep My sabbaths and venerate My sanctuary: I am the Lord.

ERb

33When a stranger resides with you in your land, you shall not wrong him. 34The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as one of your citizens; you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I the Lord am your God.

ELc

31Do not turn to ghosts and do not inquire of familiar spirits, to be defiled by them: I the Lord am your God.

ERc

35You shall not falsify measures of length, weight, or capacity. 36You shall have an honest balance, honest weights, an honest ephah, and an honest hin. I the Lord am your God who freed you from the land of Egypt. 37You shall faithfully observe all My laws and all My rules: I am the Lord.

Unit [9], vv. 19b–25, is a free-standing unit which divides the rest of the chapter into two blocks, units AL–DR, and ELa–ERc. I will refer to these two blocks as I and II. For the moment, we can consider the function of [9] as a form of punctuation. We will examine the content of unit [9] in section five. Blocks I and II have similar closings: in DR את חקתי תשמרו‎ (“You shall observe My laws”), in ERc ושמרתם את כל חקתי‎ (“You shall faithfully observe all My laws”). This may be the author’s way of hinting at the detailed parallelism which exists between the blocks. I will begin the presentation by noting that the last six pericopes of the chapter, ELa–ERc, divide into two sets of three pericopes each and that they complete the two columns we identified in the previous section. After that I will detail the parallels between the blocks. I will show that each pericope in II is closely tied to a unit in its own column of block I.

Continuing the Columns

As opposed to the first eight units, which are distinguished by categories of “duties”, Wenham states that the remainder of the chapter contains “miscellaneous” laws. This description is inaccurate. The reason why others have reached the mistaken conclusion that there is no formal order in the remainder of the chapter is that it differs significantly from the first eight units. By means of the closing-formula and opening word devices, the author made it relatively simple to see the division by “duties” in block I. The one-to-one correlation between content and opening/closing formulae does not hold in the remainder of the chapter. However, the clear identification of the first eight units as inverse parallels will enable us to sort out the organizing principles of the remaining “miscellaneous” pericopes.

The last six pericopes, vv. 26–37, divide into two sets of three pericopes each, according to the same content distinction observed between the two blocks of four, “religious/private” and “ethical/social”. They also follow the same order. The first three, ELa–ELc, contain “religious” duties, while the next three, ERa–ERc, are “ethical.” At first glance, the two closing formulae do not follow any rule in this section. However, the “duties” categories make it possible to see how the last pericopes continue the columns established in section one:

Table 3 Block II Continues the Columns of Block I

“Duties”

L
Religious/Private

R
Ethical/Social

Block I

AL
BL
CL
DL

AR
BR
CR
DR

Block II

ELa
ELb
ELc

ERa
ERb
ERc

Linguistic Parallels between the Blocks

Once the last six pericopes have been added to our original columns, the connections become all the more visible. Every one of the six pericopes in block II has a strong linguistic link to a unit in its own column in block I, as indicted in the following table.

Block

Columns

Left

Right

II

ELa

ELb

ELc

ERa

ERb

ERc

I

DL

BL

CL

BR

DR

CR

Linguistic Parallels in Column L

Units ELa and DL

ELa

כו לא תאכלו על הדם לא תנחשו ולא תעוננו

כז לא תקפו פאת ראשכם ולא תשחית את פאת זקנך

כח ושרט לנפש לא תתנו בבשרכם וכתבת קעקע לא תתנו בכם

DL

ה וכי תזבחו זבח שלמים ליהוה לרצנכם תזבחהו

ו ביום זבחכם יאכל וממחרת והנותר עד יום השלישי באש ישרף

ז ואם האכל יאכל ביום השלישי פגול הוא לא ירצה

ח ואכליו עונו ישא כי את קדש יהוה חלל ונכרתה הנפש ההוא מעמיה

ט ובקצרכם את קציר ארצכם לא תכלה פאת שדך לקצר ולקט קצירך לא תלקט

י וכרמך לא תעולל ופרט כרמך לא תלקט לעני ולגר תעזב אתם

26You shall not eat anything with its blood. You shall not practice divination or soothsaying. 27You shall not round off the side-growth (edges) on your head, or destroy the side-growth (edges) of your beard. 28You shall not make gashes in your flesh for the dead (soul), or incise any marks on yourselves: I am the Lord.

(a) 5When you sacrifice an offering of well-being to the Lord, sacrifice it so that it may be accepted on your behalf. 6It shall be eaten on the day you sacrifice it, or on the day following; but what is left by the third day must be consumed in fire. 7If it should be eaten on the third day, it is an offensive thing, it will not be acceptable. 8And he who eats of it shall bear his guilt, for he has profaned what is sacred to the Lord; that person (soul) shall be cut off from his kin.

(b) 9When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap all the way to the edges of your field, or gather the gleanings of your harvest. 10You shall not pick your vineyard bare, or gather the fallen fruit of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the poor and the stranger: I the Lord am your God.

Unit DL presents a special difficulty because it combines two totally unrelated laws, tithes and the two-day limit for consuming the well-being offering. The linguistic links between DL and ELa provide verification that the two parts of DL should indeed be viewed as a single unit. There are three linguistic links between them that do not appear anywhere else in the chapter. Both units refer to eating meat. פאה‎ (“edges”) appears in both, referring to edges of the field in DL and edges of the face in ELa. נפש‎ (“soul”) appears only in these two units in Leviticus 19.

Units ELb and BL

ELb

כט אל תחלל את בתך להזנותה ולא תזנה הארץ ומלאה הארץ זמה

ל את שבתתי תשמרו ומקדשי תיראו

BL

ג איש אמו ואביו תיראו ואת שבתתי תשמרו

29Do not degrade your daughter and make her a harlot, lest the land fall into harlotry and the land be filled with depravity. 30You shall keep My sabbaths and venerate (revere) My sanctuary

3You shall each revere his mother and his father, and keep My sabbaths

Units BL and ELb present one of the clearest examples of what Douglas has termed “exact repetitions which had led earlier students to suppose the editor was nodding”. Both include את שבתתי תשמרו‎ (“keep my sabbaths”). Both also contain תיראו‎ (“revere”), as well as a reference to parents and children.

Units ELc and CL

ELc

לא אל תפנו אל האבת ואל הידענים אל תבקשו לטמאה בהם

CL

ד אל תפנו אל האלילים ואלהי מסכה לא תעשו לכם

31Do not turn to ghosts and do not inquire of familiar spirits, to be defiled by them

4Do not turn to idols or make molten gods for yourselves

Both CL and ELc begin אל תפנו אל‎ (“do not turn to”), and refer to turning to supernatural entities.

Linguistic Parallels in Column R

Units ERa and BR

ERa

לב מפני שיבה תקום והדרת פני זקן ויראת מאלהיך

BR

יג לא תעשק את רעך ולא תגזל לא תלין פעלת שכיר אתך עד בקר

יד לא תקלל חרש ולפני עור לא תתן מכשל ויראת מאלהיך

32You shall rise before the aged and show deference to the old; you shall fear your God

13You shall not defraud your neighbor. You shall not commit robbery. The wages of a laborer shall not remain with you until morning. 14You shall not insult the deaf, or place a stumbling block before the blind. You shall fear your God

ויראת מאלהיך‎ (“you shall fear your God”) closes both ERa and BR. Both also refer to the proper treatment of others according to physical characteristics, including an interesting parallel between מפני שיבה תקום‎ (“you shall rise before the aged”) and ולפני עור לא תתן מכשל‎ (“you shall not place a stumbling block before the blind”).

Units ERb and DR

ERb

לג וכי יגור אתך גר בארצכם לא תונו אתו

לד כאזרח מכם יהיה לכם הגר הגר אתכם ואהבת לו כמוך כי גרים הייתם בארץ מצרים

DR

(a) יז לא תשנא את אחיך בלבבך הוכח תוכיח את עמיתך ולא תשא עליו חטא

יח לא תקם ולא תטר את בני עמך ואהבת לרעך כמוך

33When a stranger resides with you in your land, you shall not wrong him. 34The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as one of your citizens; you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt

(a) 17You shall not hate your brother in your heart. Reprove your fellow but incur no guilt because of him. 18You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against your countrymen. Love your neighbor as yourself

Here is a very striking near repetition, ואהבת ל… כמוך‎ (“love him as yourself”). Unit ERb appears to be the logical completion of DR.

Units ERc and CR

ERc

לה לא תעשו עול במשפט במדה במשקל ובמשורה

לו מאזני צדק אבני צדק איפת צדק והין צדק יהיה לכם אני יהוה אלהיכם אשר הוצאתי אתכם מארץ מצרים לז ושמרתם את כל חקתי ואת כל משפטי ועשיתם אתם

CR

טו לא תעשו עול במשפט לא תשא פני דל ולא תהדר פני גדול בצדק תשפט עמיתך

טז לא תלך רכיל בעמיך לא תעמד על דם רעך

35You shall not falsify measures of length, weight, or capacity. 36You shall have an honest balance, honest weights, an honest ephah, and an honest hin. I the Lord am your God who freed you from the land of Egypt. 37You shall faithfully observe all My laws and all My rules

15You shall not (falsify) render an unfair decision: do not favor the poor or show deference to the rich; judge your neighbor fairly (honestly). 16Do not deal basely with your countrymen. Do not profit by the blood of your fellow

Units ERc and CR have the same openings, לא תעשו עול במשפט‎ (“You shall not falsify”), and include צדק‎, (“honest, fair”).

Coherent Columns

We had no problem demonstrating that the columns were coherent in block I because of the common openings and closings of the units within the column. However, when we added block II to the columns we could no longer depend on the evidence of the openings and closings since the formulae do not seem to continue in block II. Therefore, we had to resort to content similarities, the “duties”, even though this is a weaker form of evidence. However, once we considered the content similarities, and placed the units of block II in the columns defined by block I, we were rewarded with strong linguistic verification that the columns are indeed coherent. Every single pericope in block II is firmly linked to a unit within its own column in block I, by a linguistic hook. Now that we have established that there are two coherent columns, we can examine the evidence that that the two columns are meant to be seen as structurally identical.

Identical Columns

The most obvious indication that the columns are structurally identical is that they both contain seven elements. (I am using the term “elements” to include both “units” and “pericopes.”) While this fact in itself is sufficient to define the columns as structurally identical, the author has reinforced it by marking the first and last element of each column as structurally parallel. Both of these parallels become apparent only after the text is arranged in the columns. The structural similarity of the first element of each column is a function of the linguistic parallels between bocks I and II. We have noted that each pericope of block II is closely linked to a unit in its column. Since there are three pericopes per column in block II and four units per column in block I, one unit in each column of block I lacks a linguistic link to a pericope in its column of block II. In both column L and column R the “unlinked” unit is the first in the column, AL and AR.

Table 4. Formal Parallels Between the Columns

L

R

Block I

First Units in Columns
Not connected to Block II

1

5

Connected to Block II
by linguistic parallels within the columns

2
3
4

6
7
8

Block II

10
11

13
14

Last Pericopes in Columns
Formulae match block I

12

15

Just as the first unit of each column is set-off by a rhetorical device, the lack of a linguistic link to block II, so too is the last pericope of each column set-off. The device that is used to set-off pericopes ELc and ERc is similar to the device that sets-off AL and AR. It too bridges blocks I and II. In fact, it can be seen as the inverse of the device used in AL and AR. Unlike other pericopes in II, both ELc and ERc follow the rule of the opening term as well as the rule of the closing formulae of block I. All units in column R of block I begin with “לא‎”, “(You shall) not”, and end with “אני יהוה‎”, “I am the Lord”, and so does unit ERc. No unit in column L of block I begin with “לא‎”, “(You shall) not”, and all end with “אני יהוה אלהיכם‎”, “I the Lord am your God”, as does unit ELc. Therefore, both ELc and ERc follow the rules of their columns as established in block I. These are the only pericopes in block II that match the in-column opening and closing formulae of block I. Lest there be any possibility that we miss the fact that pericopes ELc and ERc are structurally parallel, there is yet another strong parallel between these pericopes.

The third units in Block I

CL

אל תפנו אל האלילים

Do not turn to idols

CR

לא תעשו עול במשפט … בצדק תשפט עמיתך

You shall not render an unfair (false) decision … judge your neighbor fairly (honestly)

The third pericopes in Block II

ELc

אל תפנו אל האבת ואל הידענים

Do not turn to ghosts

ERc

לא תעשו עול במשפט … והין צדק יהיה לכם

You shall not falsify measures … You shall have an honest hin

The third pericopes in both columns of block II, ELc and ERc, begin with exactly the same words as the parallel third units of block I and contain an additional parallel as well. In both CL and ELc, the objects of אל תפנו אל‎ (“do not turn to”), are supernatural entities, thus strengthening the parallel. Both CR and ERc, begin לא תעשו עול במשפט‎ (“You shall not falsify …”), and also contain צדק‎ (“honest, fair”). None of the other parallels between the blocks includes the first words of units. It would seem that the author has placed a special emphasis on the last pericope in each column of block II, ELc and ERc, by way of a seemingly redundant parallel between them.

The Inverted Parallels Continue

We have now collected ample evidence that Leviticus 19 contains two parallel strands, which are structurally equivalent, and that pericopes ELa–ERc are firmly connected to our original columns. We must still determine whether the progressions we observed within the columns continue with the additions from block II. We noted earlier that the “ethical duties”, R, reached a peak in block I with ואהבת לרעך כמוך‎ (“Love your neighbor as yourself”). The identification with the “other” expands in ERb to include the גר‎ (“stranger”), who is also to be loved כמוך‎ (“as yourself”). This could indicate that the process in column R does continue into block II. In column L we saw a process of distancing from the holy. Pericopes ELa–ELc all include expressions of degenerate pagan practices. Therefore, the process of column L also seems to continue in block II. More specifically, we noted in DL that anyone who eats a well-being offering on the third day is to be cut off from his people. Corruption is a matter concerning individuals in that unit. However, in the continuation of L, in ELb, we find ולא תזנה הארץ ומלאה הארץ זמה‎ (“lest the land fall into harlotry and the land be filled with depravity”). Corruption has become a national concern. So the degenerative processes of column L as well as the positive process of R continue with the addition of block II to the columns.

We have seen evidence that the two extended columns of seven elements are:

In the next section, we will begin to see why the two columns have been constructed so carefully.

3. The Pairs

Five Pairs

Perhaps the most interesting characteristic that we have noted in the columns is that they can be read as inversely parallel progressions, from good to bad in L, and bad to good in R. The next phenomenon that we will examine combines the two oppositely sensed columns to create a single unified composition. This new entity consists of a set of five pairs composed of parallel sections of the columns. The flow from pair to pair creates a third process, one that is independent of the two processes in the separate columns. In order to facilitate the discussion of the pairs, I will label them from A to E as follows:

L

R

A

AL

AR

B

BL

BR

C

CL

CR

D

DL

DR

E

EL a–c

ER a–c

New Units, New Structure

We are about to see a transformation of the text as we decipher its structure. What began as fourteen elements that formed two seven-element inversely parallel structures, is about to morph into a ten-part structure consisting of five pairs. According to my reading, each set of three pericopes in the fifth pair creates one true unit. We have seen that amongst the last six of our original units, only the last one in each column, ELc and ERc, follows the rules of the first four units of its column for the opening word and closing formula. I have interpreted this fact to mean that the last three elements in each column, ELa–c and Era–c, are to be taken together as the structural equivalent of one single complex unit. I will clarify the reasons for this interpretation as well as its ramifications through the analysis of the overall structure of the five resultant pairs.

Pair E: Three Independent Segments

The two units that compose each of the five pairs are structurally identical and no two pairs have the same structure. This point is clearest in the last two pairs. Both pairs E and D contain multiple parts. Each member of pair E contains three fully articulated parts. The divisions within these members are marked by what we might call “pseudo-units”, the first two parts of each unit, ELa and ELb in EL, ERa and ERb in ER. We have seen that these false units do not follow the rules of their columns. They apparently have two structural functions. First, they guarantee that the parallel segments of the columns which we have marked EL and ER will be seen as structurally identical. Second, they create complex units, which clearly subdivide into three large components. This subdivision becomes significant as we observe the structures of the other pairs.

Pair D: Two Independent Segments

Pair D

DL

(a) ה וכי תזבחו זבח שלמים ליהוה לרצנכם תזבחהו

ו ביום זבחכם יאכל וממחרת והנותר עד יום השלישי באש ישרף

ז ואם האכל יאכל ביום השלישי פגול הוא לא ירצה

ח ואכליו עונו ישא כי את קדש יהוה חלל ונכרתה הנפש ההוא מעמיה

(b) ט ובקצרכם את קציר ארצכם לא תכלה פאת שדך לקצר ולקט קצירך לא תלקט

י וכרמך לא תעולל ופרט כרמך לא תלקט לעני ולגר תעזב אתם אני יהוה אלהיכם

DR

(a) יז לא תשנא את אחיך בלבבך הוכח תוכיח את עמיתך ולא תשא עליו חטא

יח לא תקם ולא תטר את בני עמך ואהבת לרעך כמוך אני יהוה

(b) יט את חקתי תשמרו

(a) 5When you sacrifice an offering of well-being to the Lord, sacrifice it so that it may be accepted on your behalf. 6It shall be eaten on the day you sacrifice it, or on the day following; but what is left by the third day must be consumed in fire. 7If it should be eaten on the third day, it is an offensive thing, it will not be acceptable. 8And he who eats of it shall bear his guilt, for he has profaned what is sacred to the Lord; that person shall be cut off from his kin.

(b) 9When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap all the way to the edges of your field, or gather the gleanings of your harvest. 10You shall not pick your vineyard bare, or gather the fallen fruit of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the poor and the stranger: I the Lord am your God.

(a) 17You shall not hate your brother in your heart. Reprove your fellow but incur no guilt because of him. 18You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against your countrymen. Love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.

(b) 19You shall observe My laws.

The units of pair D each contain two well-defined parts, (a) and (b). They differ in the manner in which these parts are defined. DL contains two independent subjects, the well-being offering and gleanings. The components of DR are separated by the closing formula. Therefore, both DL and DR have two distinct components. I would like to limit the discussion at this point to purely formal matters. However, I can see that the argument for pair D needs some reinforcement and that it will force me to transcend the limits I have set. The problem is in the part of DR that comes after the closing formula, את חקתי תשמרו‎ (“You shall observe My laws”). I gave some reasons earlier why this segment of verse 19 should be placed at the end of unit DR rather than in the beginning of [9], vis-à-vis the chiasm within block I. I will add a reason now that stems from the comparison with DR.

The specific problem of the second component of DR is that it comes after the closing formula. We have no other example of such an addition in the first eight units. I believe that it is meant to be a textual representation of the common thread of DL. While I have stated that the well-being offering and the gleanings are very different themes, closer inspection reveals a certain similarity. Both speak of leftovers. The leftover meat is forbidden. Some grain, on the other hand, must be leftover, not harvested. One is forbidden and one is required, but they are both leftovers. So is the second component of DR; it comes after the closing. The content of DL speaks of leftovers while the structure of DR creates a leftover! We will return to this point after looking at pair C.

Pair C: Two Content Related Segments

Pair C

CL

(a) ד אל תפנו אל האלילים

(b) ואלהי מסכה לא תעשו לכם

CR

(a) טו לא תעשו עול במשפט לא תשא פני דל ולא תהדר פני גדול בצדק תשפט עמיתך

(b) טז לא תלך רכיל בעמיך לא תעמד על דם רעך

(a) 4Do not turn to idols

(b) or make molten gods for yourselves: I the Lord am your God.

(a) 15You shall not render an unfair decision: do not favor the poor or show deference to the rich; judge your neighbor fairly

(b) 16Do not deal basely with your countrymen. Do not profit by the blood of your fellow: I am the Lord.

Unlike E and D, the common structure in pair C is not obvious. It requires a close reading. Both units have a single broad subject, forbidden worship in CL and social justice in CR, but it is possible to see that both units divide in two. I have marked the components as (a) and (b). The distinction in CL is between worshiping commonly accepted gods (a) and creating your own images (b). In CR the distinction is between judges (a) and private individuals (b). In both CL and CR element (a) contains a public aspect of the subject, while element (b) contains a private aspect.

The Structural Order of Pairs C, D and E

We can now understand yet another reason for the unusual construction of pair D. Pairs C and E are each constructed according to different principles. Pair D, which is located between them, incorporates aspects of both adjacent pairs. The units of E are structurally equivalent because they are similarly divided into three separate parts by the pseudo-endings. The units of C are subdivided by parallel content divisions. Pair D is divided by a content division in DL and by a false ending in DR. Therefore, D is a structural middle between C and E.

Pair B: Fear as an Ambivalent Connection

Pair B

BL

(a) ג איש אמו ואביו תיראו

(b) ואת שבתתי תשמרו

BR

(a) יג לא תעשק את רעך ולא תגזל לא תלין פעלת שכיר אתך עד בקר

יד לא תקלל חרש ולפני עור לא תתן מכשל

(b) ויראת מאלהיך

(a) 3You shall each revere his mother and his father,

(b) and keep My sabbaths

(a) 13You shall not defraud your neighbor. You shall not commit robbery. The wages of a laborer shall not remain with you until morning. 14You shall not insult the deaf, or place a stumbling block before the blind.

(b) You shall fear your God

Pairs A and B are similar. The identification of both pairs depends on linguistic and syntactical parallels. The key element in B is the parallel use of the verb ירא‎. Both units contain two elements, marked (a) and (b), one of which contains ירא‎, “fear, revere.” In both units, the reader must make a jump in order to connect the two elements. The only connection supplied by the author is the ubiquitous “ו‎”, a conjunction that requires over four pages of definitions in the BDB Lexicon.16 It is commonly understood that the fear of God in BR is given as a reason not to take advantage of others. The text itself is more equivocal. It does not spell out the connection between fear of God and the actions prohibited in element (a). It is left to the reader to deduce the connection from the syntax. The same problem exists concerning the connection in BL between fear/awe of parents and observing God’s Sabbath. The text can be interpreted, in parallel to BL, as implying that reverence for (Sabbath-observing) parents, leads to observing the Sabbath. Thus, the units are a pair based on an ambivalent connection between ירא‎, fear or reverence, and the other element of the unit.

Pair A: Holy Reasons

Pair A

AL

(a) קדשים תהיו

(b) כי קדוש אני יהוה אלהיכם

AR

(a) יא לא תגנבו ולא תכחשו ולא תשקרו איש בעמיתו

(b) יב ולא תשבעו בשמי לשקר וחללת את שם אלהיך

(a) You shall be holy,

(b) for I, the Lord your God, am holy.

(a) 11You shall not steal; you shall not deal deceitfully or falsely with one another.

(b) 12You shall not swear falsely by My name, profaning the name of your God

The units of A consist of two inseparable segments. A key term links the segments within each unit. AL contains קדש‎ (“holy”) in segments (a) and (b) while AR repeats שקר‎ (“falsely”). Both units also link their two segments through reasons dependent on God: כי קדוש אני‎ (“for I, the Lord your God, am holy”) and וחללת את שם אלהיך‎ (“profaning the name of your God”). The divine reasons make the links between the segments unequivocal, as opposed to the ambivalent causal link we found in the units of B.

The Structural Order of Pairs A, B and C

We can now understand the arrangement of the first three pairs. Pair B plays a role that is similar to the role played by D in the arrangement we saw of C–E. Pair A is based on a causal relationship between two inseparable elements. Pair C, on the other hand, has no such relationship between its elements. Although the elements within the units of C do share a common subject, they are structurally independent. The units of B fall between the dependency of A and the independence of C. The ambivalence built into the units of B is evidently a necessary element in the organization of the pairs. It provides a step between A and C. The “ambivalence factor” in B also indicates that the demands of the non-linear reading may take precedence over the clarity of the linear reading. When reading the text linearly, the connection between respect for parents and observance of the Sabbath is obscured. It is purely a matter for speculation. The clarity of the linear reading suffers. Only when we read BL in parallel with BR, in a non-linear reading, can we see that the ambiguity is part of the plan.

The Progression of the Five Pairs

Let us examine now the order of the five pairs according to their structures. We have noted that there is a similarity between A and B based on the interconnection of the elements of each pair. Likewise, pairs D and E are similar, including well-articulated independent subunits. Pair C forms a bridge between the first two and last two pairs. If we characterize the first two pairs as having syntactical links within their units and the last two as having independent elements, then C can be seen as a medium between them. C is like A and B in that the elements of each unit in C are linked to each other by their content. C is like D and E insofar as the separate elements within the units are formally unlinked.

We have now noted that pairs B, C and D have all been constructed in such a manner that they can be seen as structural middles: B between A and C; D between C and E; and C between A–B and D–E. This exposes the literary technique employed to create a sense of progression or process in the text. We can see the implied process in the following table.

Table 5. A Process of Separation

Pair

Common Structure in Each Unit of Pair

Connection/
Process of Separation

A

Two causally related clauses
with linguistic links between them

Inseparable

B

Two segments linked by implied causal relationship

With linguistic link between units

Equivocally Inseparable

C

Two segments linked by similar content but without linguistic links

One subject

Linked-Separable

D

Two fully articulated unlinked elements

Two Subjects

Partially Separated

E

Three fully articulated elements separated by pseudo-closings

Three Subjects

Fully Separated

We can see in the above table that the pairs are ordered according to the complexity of their common structures. The units of pair A cannot be sub-divided, while the units of E contain three formally separated elements. Pairs B–D are three intermediate stages between the inseparable elements of A, and the fully separated elements of E. The process, which appears across the five pairs, can be described as “separation”.

Pairs C–E display a formal order based on the number of separate subjects in each unit of the pairs. The units of pair C each have two separate elements, but in both cases the elements form a single subject. In D, the two elements of each unit are separate subjects. In E, each unit contains three independent elements. So units C–E are ordered by the number of subjects in each unit, from one to three. This is similar to the internal numbering that we found in the first four units of column R. It also supports our decision to read each of the units of E as a single tri-part unit rather than as three separate units.

From Structure to Meaning

We have now identified one of the literary devices that have been employed in the construction of the pairs, and its concomitant process. We have seen that each pair has its own internal structure. Taken together, the five structures create a process of “separation” as we progress from pair to pair. The separation that we have observed is purely structural; it is not connected to any specific content. Yet, it is unmistakably one of the more inclusive features of the text. The next literary device we will examine becomes apparent only after the discovery of the pairs. It verifies the importance of the pairs in defining the structure, as well as demonstrating the link between structure and meaning.

The second literary device is based on references to God within the units. Each pair combines these references with other material in a distinctive way. This phenomenon is systematic and embedded in the five-pair configuration. Just as each pair has its own unique structure, it also has its own unique set of references to God. In other words, God plays a different role in each pair. Again, we will see a process of separation appear from pair to pair as God’s role becomes less and less significant for the meaning of the pair. An understanding of the process described by God’s changing role will lead us to an understanding of the meaning of Leviticus 19 as a literary construct, as opposed to an agglomeration of laws.

References to God

Near the beginning of this paper we noted that the author has used God’s appearances in the form אני יהוה‎ (“I am the Lord”), as a literary device to mark the ends of units, and as we have seen, pseudo-units. We will now examine a further systematic use of references to God. God is referred to within the units both directly, e.g. “you shall fear your God”, and indirectly, e.g. “You shall heed my statutes”. In the following discussion, I will include all of these references to God, both direct and indirect, within the general category of “God-oriented” material. Elements of text that do not refer to God will be termed “not God-oriented”. In the following table of the pairs, I have emphasized all of the God-oriented material. For the sake of clarity, I have removed the closing formulae.

Table 6. God Oriented and not God Oriented Material in the Pairs

AL

(a) א וידבר יהוה אל משה לאמר

(b) כי קדוש אני יהוה אלהיכם

ב דבר אל כל עדת בני ישראל ואמרת אלהם קדשים תהיו

AR

(a) יא לא תגנבו ולא תכחשו ולא תשקרו איש בעמיתו

(b) יב ולא תשבעו בשמי לשקר וחללת את שם אלהיך

BL

(a) ג איש אמו ואביו תיראו

(b) ואת שבתתי תשמרו

BR

(a) יג לא תעשק את רעך ולא תגזל לא תלין פעלת שכיר אתך עד בקר

יד לא תקלל חרש ולפני עור לא תתן מכשל

(b) ויראת מאלהיך

CL

(a) ד אל תפנו אל האלילים

(b) ואלהי מסכה לא תעשו לכם

CR

(a) טו לא תעשו עול במשפט לא תשא פני דל ולא תהדר פני גדול בצדק תשפט עמיתך טז לא תלך רכיל בעמיך

(b) לא תעמד על דם רעך

DL

(a) ה וכי תזבחו זבח שלמים ליהוה לרצנכם תזבחהו

ו ביום זבחכם יאכל וממחרת והנותר עד יום השלישי באש ישרף

ז ואם האכל יאכל ביום השלישי פגול הוא לא ירצה

ח ואכליו עונו ישא כי את קדש יהוה חלל ונכרתה הנפש ההוא מעמיה

(b) ט ובקצרכם את קציר ארצכם לא תכלה פאת שדך לקצר ולקט קצירך לא תלקט

י וכרמך לא תעולל ופרט כרמך לא תלקט לעני ולגר תעזב אתם

DR

(a) יז לא תשנא את אחיך בלבבך הוכח תוכיח את עמיתך ולא תשא עליו חטא

יח לא תקם ולא תטר את בני עמך ואהבת לרעך כמוך אני יהוה

(b) יט את חקתי תשמרו

ELa

כו לא תאכלו על הדם לא תנחשו ולא תעוננו

כז לא תקפו פאת ראשכם ולא תשחית את פאת זקנך

כח ושרט לנפש לא תתנו בבשרכם וכתבת קעקע לא תתנו בכם

ERa

(a) לב מפני שיבה תקום והדרת פני זקן

(b) ויראת מאלהיך

ELb

(a) כט אל תחלל את בתך להזנותה ולא תזנה הארץ ומלאה הארץ זמה

(b) ל את שבתתי תשמרו ומקדשי תיראו

ERb

לג וכי יגור אתך גר בארצכם לא תונו אתו

לד כאזרח מכם יהיה לכם הגר הגר אתכם ואהבת לו כמוך כי גרים הייתם בארץ מצרים

ELc

לא אל תפנו אל האבת ואל הידענים אל תבקשו לטמאה בהם

ERc

(a) לה לא תעשו עול במשפט במדה במשקל ובמשורה

לו מאזני צדק אבני צדק איפת צדק והין צדק יהיה לכם

(b) אני יהוה אלהיכם אשר הוצאתי אתכם מארץ מצרים

לז ושמרתם את כל חקתי ואת כל משפטי ועשיתם אתם

AL

(a) You shall be holy,

(b) for I, the Lord your God, am holy.

AR

(a) 11You shall not steal; you shall not deal deceitfully or falsely with one another.

(b) 12You shall not swear falsely by My name, profaning the name of your God

BL

(a) 3You shall each revere his mother and his father,

(b) and keep My sabbaths

BR

(a) 13You shall not defraud your neighbor. You shall not commit robbery. The wages of a laborer shall not remain with you until morning. 14You shall not insult the deaf, or place a stumbling block before the blind.

(b) You shall fear your God

CL

(a) 4Do not turn to idols

(b) or make molten gods for yourselves

CR

(a) 15You shall not render an unfair decision: do not favor the poor or show deference to the rich; judge your neighbor fairly.

(b)16Do not deal basely with your countrymen. Do not profit by the blood of your fellow

DL

(a) 5When you sacrifice an offering of well-being to the Lord, sacrifice it so that it may be accepted on your behalf. 6It shall be eaten on the day you sacrifice it, or on the day following; but what is left by the third day must be consumed in fire. 7If it should be eaten on the third day, it is an offensive thing, it will not be acceptable. 8And he who eats of it shall bear his guilt, for he has profaned what is sacred to the Lord; that person shall be cut off from his kin.

(b) 9When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap all the way to the edges of your field, or gather the gleanings of your harvest. 10You shall not pick your vineyard bare, or gather the fallen fruit of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the poor and the stranger

DR

(a) 17You shall not hate your brother in your heart. Reprove your fellow but incur no guilt because of him. 18You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against your countrymen. Love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.

(b) 19You shall observe My laws.

ELa

26You shall not eat anything with its blood. You shall not practice divination or soothsaying. 27You shall not round off the side-growth on your head, or destroy the side-growth of your beard. 28You shall not make gashes in your flesh for the dead, or incise any marks on yourselves: I am the Lord.

ERa

(a) 32You shall rise before the aged and show deference to the old;

(b) you shall fear your God

ELb

(a) 29Do not degrade your daughter and make her a harlot, lest the land fall into harlotry and the land be filled with depravity.

(b) 30You shall keep My sabbaths and venerate My sanctuary

ERb

33When a stranger resides with you in your land, you shall not wrong him. 34The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as one of your citizens; you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt

ELc

31Do not turn to ghosts and do not inquire of familiar spirits, to be defiled by them

ERc

(a) 35You shall not falsify measures of length, weight, or capacity. 36You shall have an honest balance, honest weights, an honest ephah, and an honest hin.

(b) I the Lord am your God who freed you from the land of Egypt. 37You shall faithfully observe all My laws and all My rules

The Pattern of References to God

Taken together, the references to God create a pattern that indicates that they have been carefully arranged. The eight units that contain God-oriented material are arranged symmetrically around two units that do not contain references to God. This symmetry is created by the absence of references to God in the central pair, C. Both units in each of the other four pairs do contain references to God. The fact that the only units lacking references to God are the two in C may indicate that the symmetrical arrangement around pair C is not arbitrary.

Another unifying characteristic of the references to God is the location of each reference within the individual unit. All of the God-oriented material is found within units that also contain not-God-oriented material. Moreover, except in DL(a), the God-oriented material always follows a section that is not God-oriented. This is indicated in the table above by the division into segments (a) and (b). Except for DL, the God-oriented always appears in segment (b). This arrangement could lead us to see the two types of material as unequal; one is primary and the other is secondary. The not God-oriented appears in all ten units and appears first in seven of the eight mixed units, so it would seem to be the primary stratum. The God-oriented, not appearing in all the units, and appearing second in seven of eight where it does appear, would seem to be a secondary stratum.

These observations, taken together, are prima-facie evidence that the references to God play a part in the overall plan according to which Leviticus 19 was constructed. We will verify this hypothesis by examining the God-oriented material within each pair. We will see that there is a progression from pair to pair based on the nature of the connection between the God-oriented and not God-oriented material. From pair to pair, the connection between the two types of material becomes weaker and weaker, indicating a process of separation. I will refer to this process as the “divine process” in order to distinguish it from the “structural process”, which we have seen across the structures of the pairs.

For the sake of this analysis, I have created the dyad “God-oriented”, “not God-oriented”. It should not be confused with the “religious” and “ethical” duties, which characterized the columns. We have already seen that there are references to God in “ethical” units such as “you shall fear your God” in BR. There is also a “religious” unit, CL, which does not mention God at all. Therefore, in my analysis I can say that CL is not “God-oriented”, although it falls in the “religious duties” column.

Pair A: God and Meaning are Inseparable

AL

(a) א וידבר יהוה אל משה לאמר

ב דבר אל כל עדת בני ישראל ואמרת אלהם
קדשים תהיו

(a) כי קדוש אני יהוה אלהיכם

AR

(a) יא לא תגנבו ולא תכחשו ולא תשקרו איש בעמיתו

(b) יב ולא תשבעו בשמי לשקר וחללת את שם אלהיך

AL

(a) You shall be holy,

(b) for I, the Lord your God, am holy.

AR

(a) 11You shall not steal; you shall not deal deceitfully or falsely with one another.

(b) 12You shall not swear falsely by My name, profaning the name of your God

The units of pair A consist of an opening clause that does not mention God, (a), and a closing clause, (b), that does. In our earlier analysis of pair A, we found that the two clauses in each unit are inseparable, since they are parts of a single idea. God is an essential part of each unit; removing Him would significantly change the meaning of what remains. God is the source of holiness in AL; dishonesty is to be avoided in AR because it can lead to the desecration of God’s name. Therefore, the segment in which God appears, (b) in each unit, is inseparable from the segment in which He does not appear, and God Himself is inseparable from the meaning of the pair. Now we will look at pair E, in which God’s appearances have so little to do with the surrounding text, that they seem virtually gratuitous.

Pair E: References to God are not Necessary

ELa

כו לא תאכלו על הדם לא תנחשו ולא תעוננו

כז לא תקפו פאת ראשכם ולא תשחית את פאת זקנך

כח ושרט לנפש לא תתנו בבשרכם
וכתבת קעקע לא תתנו בכם

ERa

(a) והדרת פני זקן לב מפני שיבה תקום

(b) ויראת מאלהיך

ELb

(a) כט אל תחלל את בתך להזנותה ולא תזנה הארץ ומלאה הארץ זמה

(b) ל את שבתתי תשמרו ומקדשי תיראו

ERb

לג וכי יגור אתך גר בארצכם לא תונו אתו

לד כאזרח מכם יהיה לכם הגר הגר אתכם ואהבת לו כמוך כי גרים הייתם בארץ מצרים

ELc

לא אל תפנו אל האבת ואל הידענים אל תבקשו לטמאה בהם

ERc

(a) לה לא תעשו עול במשפט במדה במשקל ובמשורה

לו מאזני צדק אבני צדק איפת צדק והין צדק יהיה לכם

(b) אני יהוה אלהיכם אשר הוצאתי אתכם מארץ מצרים

לז ושמרתם את כל חקתי ואת כל משפטי ועשיתם אתם

ELa

26You shall not eat anything with its blood. You shall not practice divination or soothsaying. 27You shall not round off the side-growth on your head, or destroy the side-growth of your beard. 28You shall not make gashes in your flesh for the dead, or incise any marks on yourselves

ERa

(a) 32You shall rise before the aged and show deference to the old;

(b) you shall fear your God

ELb

(a) 29Do not degrade your daughter and make her a harlot, lest the land fall into harlotry and the land be filled with depravity.

(b) 30You shall keep My sabbaths and venerate My sanctuary

ERb

33When a stranger resides with you in your land, you shall not wrong him. 34The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as one of your citizens; you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt

ELc

31Do not turn to ghosts and do not inquire of familiar spirits, to be defiled by them

ERc

(a) 35You shall not falsify measures of length, weight, or capacity. 36You shall have an honest balance, honest weights, an honest ephah, and an honest hin.

(b) I the Lord am your God who freed you from the land of Egypt.

37You shall faithfully observe all My laws and all My rules

There are three references to God in pair E, in ELb, ERa and ERc. The symmetrical distribution of these three subunits creates a mirror image of the pericopes that do not mention God, ELa, ELc and ERb. This symmetrical distribution is reinforced by the repetition of the verbs associated with God-oriented commands in ELb: שמר‎ (“keep, observe”), appears in ERc and ELb; ירא‎ (“fear, venerate”), appears in ERa and ELb. Only these two verbs have the divinity or His “possessions” as their objects in all of E. There are other common strands running through the three subunits in which God is mentioned.

All three God-related subunits have two distinct parts, marked (a) and (b). In all three, the first part, (a), contains no mention of God; only the second part, (b), does, as in the units of A. Unlike pair A, in these three subunits there are no semantic links between the parts that refer to God and the parts that do not. Given that the parts referring to God are all at the ends of the units, they have the appearance of accretions to the text. However, since we have already seen signs that references to God are part of a larger plan, we should ask ourselves why they have been arranged in E to give an impression that they are either an afterthought or superfluous.

The answer to our question can be found by positing that the author wishes us to see God as, in some way, unnecessary, or disconnected. The fact that the God-related material in pair E is unrelated to the not God-related material is consistent with our reading of the structure of the pairs. In our analysis of the common structures of the pairs, we characterized pair E as having fully separated structural elements. Similarly, it contains independent semantic elements: the God-related and the not God-related elements. This stands in opposition to the place of God-related material in the units of pair A, in which, as we saw, the God-related is inseparable from the not God-related. Just as the structures of the pairs indicated a process of separation, so too does the arrangement of God-related material.

Two Strata

We earlier considered the possibility that the distribution of God-oriented material throughout the five pairs might indicate a stratification in which the “not God-oriented” is the primary stratum and the God-oriented is the secondary stratum. What we have seen in pair E would seem to verify this notion. Only half of the six pericopes of E contain God-oriented material. All of the three pericopes which contain God-oriented material begin with the not God-oriented. Most significantly, there is no apparent connection between the two types of material. So it would seem that we are justified in seeing the “not God” as the primary stratum. This distinction is important for understanding the function of the God-related material and the process it creates. If the primary stratum is “not God”, then the secondary “God” stratum has been superimposed upon the “not God” in order to create a compound image. This textual overlay makes it possible to distinguish the changing role of the “God related” against the constant background of the “not God”. We will return to this discussion after examining God’s appearances in B and D.

Pair D: References to God are Partially Superfluous

Pair D

DL

(a) ה וכי תזבחו זבח שלמים ליהוה לרצנכם תזבחהו

ו ביום זבחכם יאכל וממחרת
והנותר עד יום השלישי באש ישרף

ז ואם האכל יאכל ביום השלישי פגול הוא לא ירצה

ח ואכליו עונו ישא כי את קדש יהוה חלל ונכרתה הנפש ההוא מעמיה

(b) ט ובקצרכם את קציר ארצכם
לא תכלה פאת שדך לקצר ולקט קצירך לא תלקט

י וכרמך לא תעולל ופרט כרמך לא תלקט
לעני ולגר תעזב אתם

DR

(a) יז לא תשנא את אחיך בלבבך הוכח תוכיח את עמיתך ולא תשא עליו חטא

יח לא תקם ולא תטר את בני עמך ואהבת לרעך כמוך אני יהוה

(b) יט את חקתי תשמרו

(a) 5When you sacrifice an offering of well-being to the Lord, sacrifice it so that it may be accepted on your behalf. 6It shall be eaten on the day you sacrifice it, or on the day following; but what is left by the third day must be consumed in fire. 7If it should be eaten on the third day, it is an offensive thing, it will not be acceptable. 8And he who eats of it shall bear his guilt, for he has profaned what is sacred to the Lord; that person shall be cut off from his kin.

(b) 9When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap all the way to the edges of your field, or gather the gleanings of your harvest. 10You shall not pick your vineyard bare, or gather the fallen fruit of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the poor and the stranger

(a) 17You shall not hate your brother in your heart. Reprove your fellow but incur no guilt because of him. 18You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against your countrymen. Love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.

(b) 19You shall observe My laws.

DL(a) and DR(b) refer to God. DR(b), את חקתי תשמרו‎ (“You shall observe My laws”), is apparently superfluous, because it comes after the closing formula, אני יהוה‎ (“I am the Lord”). Therefore, half the references to God in pair D are effectively gratuitous, justifying its place between C and E.

Pair B: The Connection with God is Necessary by Implication

Pair B

BL

(a) ג איש אמו ואביו תיראו

(b) ואת שבתתי תשמרו

BR

(a) יג לא תעשק את רעך ולא תגזל
לא תלין פעלת שכיר אתך עד בקר

יד לא תקלל חרש ולפני עור לא תתן מכשל

(b) ויראת מאלהיך

(a) 3You shall each revere his mother and his father,

(b) and keep My sabbaths

(a) 13You shall not defraud your neighbor. You shall not commit robbery. The wages of a laborer shall not remain with you until morning. 14You shall not insult the deaf, or place a stumbling block before the blind.

(b) You shall fear your God

In contrast with pair A, Pair B does not contain directly stated divine reasons. However, the juxtaposition of the God-oriented and not God-oriented may imply a causal connection. ויראת מאלהיך‎ (“You shall fear your God”), in BR(b) is generally understood as the reason to obey the previous laws, although there is no linguistic connection to BR(a) that demands this understanding. Similarly, the fear/reverence of parents in BL may lead to Sabbath observance. However it is also possible to read, איש אמו ואביו תיראו‎ (“You shall each revere his mother and his father”), and ואת שבתתי תשמרו‎ (“and keep My Sabbaths”), as two independent clauses. We can conclude that the God-oriented material in pair A is more closely connected to the not God-oriented in A than the God-oriented in B is to the not God in B. Therefore, pair B does belong between A and C. In the following table, I have added a new column summarizing the relevance of references to God in the pairs to the columns summarizing the structure of the pairs.

Table 7. The Divine Process

Pair

Common Structure
in Each Unit of Pair

Connection​—​Process of Separation

Relevance of References to God

A

Two causally related clauses with linguistic links between them

Inseparable

Definitely necessary

B

Two segments linked by implied causal relationship; linguistic link between units—yerah

Possibly inseparable

Possibly necessary

C

Two segments linked by similar content but without linguistic links

One subject

Linked-separable

None (neither necessary nor unnecessary)

D

Two fully articulated unlinked elements

Two Subjects

Partially separated

Partially unnecessary

E

Three fully articulated elements separated by pseudo-closings

Three Subjects

Fully separated

Unnecessary

The Conceptual Process

We can now conclude that the structural process of separation that appears in the pairs has a semantic correlative associated with God. Just as the order of the five pairs indicates a progression from inseparable subunits to fully separated subunits, the references to God in the units lead to a parallel progression. From pair to pair God is less and less connected to the “not God”, until pair E, in which He is completely disconnected from the underlying not God-oriented text.

In addition to identifying the rule for references to God in the units of Leviticus 19, we have also identified the underlying mechanism by means of which the author has implemented the rule. The mechanism is based on the stratification into a primary “not-God” stratum and a secondary “God” stratum. The primary “not God” stratum is the equivalent of a fixed point against which the motion of the secondary “God” stratum can be measured. The “not God” has been organized in a manner that makes God’s changing roles visible.

The significance of the pairs

We have now completed the demonstration that Leviticus 19 contains five structural pairs. In order to grasp the full significance of what we have found, let us review the earlier steps of our analysis. The discovery of the pairs was predicated upon the previous discovery of the parallel columns. We found that the two columns are structurally identical and that each column has an independent theme, similar to Milgrom’s “duties”. The contents of each column are ordered; column L is ordered from good to bad and column R from bad to good. Taken together, the columns create an inverted parallel. These characteristics of the columns demonstrated that Leviticus 19 is a complex literary creation and not simply a collection of laws.

Having determined that these two columns were parts of a literary composition, we faced the challenge of learning how to read that composition. The fact that the columns were structural parallels led us to examine them in parallel. We have seen that reading the columns in parallel leads to a redefining of the underlying structure. Now we can say that the structure consists of five well-ordered pairs. Our situation has become a bit similar to that of the physicists examining the nature of light who must admit that it is apparently both a particle and wave energy. While this is intuitively impossible, it is the only way to explain the appearances. Our structure can be described both as two columns, which are inverted parallels, and as five hierarchically ordered pairs. The “intuitively impossible”, or at least “unlikely”, element in our description is that the columns and pairs seem to reflect two independent principles of organization. It is as if the columns were organized as inverted parallels according to principles of good and evil and the “duties” by one hand, while the pairs were organized as direct parallels by rules of complexity and “God—not God”, by another hand. The problem is that both the two-column description and the five-pair description contain exactly the same elements of text. The challenge of reading the composition has grown exponentially with the discovery of the pairs.

The Solution

The solution to our “particle/wave” conundrum is that the document containing the columns and pairs was planned as a true table. Each of the ten units represents the intersection of two lines of thought, the vertical and the horizontal. In order to understand this concept, we must make a small change in nomenclature. We will rename the pairs “rows”. We are looking at a literary table consisting of two columns and five rows.

L

R

A

AL

AR

B

BL

BR

C

CL

CR

D

DL

DR

E

EL

ER

Each unit is a compound consisting of two components, which are represented by the two letters defining the unit. For example, unit AL contains the “A-ness” of row (pair) A, i.e. “inseparable” and the “L-ness” of column L, i.e. “private”. Row A has a certain character or rule, and so does column L. Unit AL represents the intersection of these two lines of thought. This view implies that the author began with the framework defined by the concepts that give definition to the columns, L and R, and the rows, A–E. Each unit was then constructed in such a manner as to reflect the two planning lines that intersect in it. The resultant composition can be described as “tabular” or “woven.”

The discovery of a table within Leviticus 19 may raise more questions than it answers. While we can now point to the plan that required the combination of diverse laws in the chapter, we must begin to deal with the meaning of the resultant composition. How are we to read a tabular composition? How does it compare with a linear text? Why did the author choose this format? Are there similar compositions within the Torah? If so, how widespread is the phenomenon? In a previous article, I have demonstrated that the book of Leviticus consists of twenty-two literary tables, which integrate into two large “tables of tables.”17 In the next section we will investigate the connection between Leviticus 19 and what may be the source of the literary tables, the Exodus 20 Decalogue.

4. The Decalogue and Leviticus 19

The Ten Commandments are probably the most famous bit of legislation in the world. Modern scholars are not sure, however, where exactly the Ten Commandments are, nor what they really mean.18

… if chap. 19 had the Decalogue in mind, why was it exemplified with such rare, ambiguous cases? Would anyone who heard or read this chapter have thought of these allusions without looking for them in advance?19

Introduction

In this section, I will demonstrate that Leviticus 19 was modeled after the Exodus 20 Decalogue. The reason that others have explored the relationship between the Decalogue and Leviticus 19 is that Leviticus 19 contains word for word fragments of some components of the Decalogue, as well as some less literal allusions. Milgrom lists no less than six different “attempts to find the Decalogue in this chapter … both ancient and modern”.20 While the number of near repetitions has caused Schwartz to pose at least a common source, there is still no satisfying explanation for the parallels.21 My approach to this issue differs from the approach of my predecessors. I will demonstrate a connection between the structure of Leviticus 19 and that of the Decalogue. The five-pair tabular structure that we have described in the first three sections of this investigation is itself a decalogue composed of two five-part tablets (columns). I will examine the similarities between this decalogue and the Decalogue in Exodus 20 and conclude that a five-pair arrangement of this Decalogue served both as a structural model and a conceptual plan for Leviticus 19. After I demonstrate the formal relationship between the two ten-part structures, I will offer a hypothetical, literary, explanation for the similarity between them.

Which Division into Ten

The Torah says that the Decalogue contains ten Words (דברים‎) but does not indicate how to divide the text into ten components. Different traditions have developed regarding this division. None of them base themselves on persuasive literary evidence. I will show that the division in the Masoretic Text (MT), which appears in the Torah scrolls read in synagogues, should be preferred because it leads to a reading that integrates all ten Words in a coherent document. The document itself consists of five consecutive pairs of Words organized hierarchically, from the first pair, which focuses on God, to the last pair, which is limited to subjective human experience, coveting. Once this internal structure is recognized, it leads to seeing a new arrangement of the Words as they might have been arranged on the two stone tablets. They should be seen as written in pairs across the two tablets, the first Word on one and the second Word on the other, the third on the first, etc. Thus one tablet contains the “odd” Words and the other the “evens.” This arrangement may be the literal meaning of the otherwise difficult verse in Ex. 32:15, לחת כתבים משני עבריהם, מזה ומזה הם כתבים‎, (“(the writing was) written across both tablets; (alternately,) on one and (then) the other, were they written”).

The Sinaitic Decalogue According to Ex. 32:15

AL

AR

I ב אנכי יהוה אלהיך אשר הוצאתיך מארץ מצרים מבית עבדים

II לא יהיה לך אלהים אחרים על פני

III ג לא תעשה לך פסל וכל תמונה אשר בשמים ממעל ואשר בארץ מתחת ואשר במים מתחת לארץ

IV ד לא תשתחוה להם ולא תעבדם

V כי אנכי יהוה אלהיך אל קנא פקד עון אבת על בנים על שלשים ועל רבעים לשנאי הועשה חסד לאלפים לאהבי ולשמרי מצותי

ו לא תשא את שם יהוה אלהיך לשוא כי לא ינקה יהוה את אשר ישא את שמו לשוא

BL

I ז זכור את יום השבת לקדשו

II ח ששת ימים תעבד ועשית כל מלאכתך טויום השביעי שבת ליהוה אלהיך

III לא תעשה כל מלאכה אתה ובנך ובתך עבדך ואמתך ובהמתך וגרך אשר בשעריך

IV י כי ששת ימים עשה יהוה את השמים ואת הארץ את הים ואת כל אשר בם וינח ביום השביעי

V על כן ברך יהוה את יום השבת ויקדשהו

BR

יא כבד את אביך ואת אמך למען יארכון ימיך על האדמה אשר יהוה אלהיך נתן לך

CL

יב לא תרצח

CR

לא תנאף

DL

לא תגנב

DR

לא תענה ברעך עד שקר

EL

יד לא תחמד בית רעך

ER

לא תחמד אשת רעך ועבדו ואמתו ושורו וחמרו וכל אשר לרעך

AL

I. 2I the Lord am your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, the house of bondage:

II. 3You shall have no other gods besides Me.

III. 4You shall not make for yourself a sculptured image, or any likeness of what is
in the heavens above,
or on the earth below,
or in the waters under the earth.

IV. 5You shall not bow down to them or serve them.

V. For I the Lord your God am an impassioned God, visiting the guilt of the parents upon the children, upon the third and upon the fourth generations of those who reject Me, 6but showing kindness to the thousandth generation of those who love Me and keep My commandments.

AR

7You shall not swear falsely by the name of the Lord your God; for the Lord will not clear one who swears falsely by His name.

BL

I. 8Remember the sabbath day and keep it holy.

II. 9Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10but the seventh day is a sabbath of the Lord your God:

III. you shall not do any work you, your son or daughter, your male or female slave, or your cattle, or the stranger who is within your settlements.

IV. 11For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth and sea, and all that is in them, and He rested on the seventh day;

V. therefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day and hallowed it.

BR

12Honor your father and your mother, that you may lengthen your days on the land that the Lord your God is assigning to you.

CL

13You shall not murder.

CR

You shall not commit adultery.

DL

You shall not steal.

DR

You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

EL

14You shall not covet your neighbors house

ER

You shall not covet your neighbors wife, or his male or female slave, or his ox or his ass, or anything that is your neighbors.

Five Pairs of Words

The above arrangement may explain why two Words begin “You shall not covet”. The apparent redundancy hints to the reader to investigate the other Words as pairs. While no other pair contains as obvious a link as EL and ER, two pairs, A and B, do contain linguistic and formal links while two others, C and D, contain content links. AL and AR contain acts that affect “the Lord your God”. BL and BR, the only two positive commandments, contain reasons that relate to God, as well as common references to the parent/child relationship and time. CL and CR together encompass the lifecycle, from propagation to death. They forbid acts that begin and end human life. That leaves DL and DR. Both of them speak of dishonesty.

Additional evidence of the validity of the MT division appears in Words AL and BL. AL has a highly symmetrical five-part structure, marked I–V. The envelope of the structure is defined by the inclusio of אנכי יהוה אלהיך‎ (“I the lord your God”), at the beginnings of elements I and V. The symmetry is based on three concentrically ordered triads. The first is chronologically ordered: I, past; II–IV, present; V, future. The second triad spans II–IV and is based on the grammatical persons which are the indirect object: II, first; III, second; IV, third. The third triad is found within III and is spatial: heaven above, earth, water under the earth. Only the MT division maintains the brilliant symmetry of this Word and its inclusio. Word BL, which also contains a five-part symmetric structure, can be seen as further evidence to the fact that AL is an authored unit. Taken together, the content pairs and the internal structure of AL are sufficient evidence to justify the interpretation of Ex 32:15: the pairs were written across the two tablets, alternately, on one and then the other.

The Decalogue Pairs in Leviticus 19

Leviticus 19 contains literal fragments of the Decalogue as well as less clear references to it, as indicated in the various attempts to identify the Decalogue within Leviticus 19. However, the confused order of these fragments, combined with the veiled character of the references, has prevented critics from agreeing as to the nature of the connection between the two texts. The evidence vis-à-vis the common structure of the two texts makes it possible to view the connection from a new perspective. This is a significant advance, because we are no longer limited to comparing individual laws in Leviticus 19 with their parallels in the Decalogue. We can also compare structural elements. We will see now that the author of Leviticus 19 read the Decalogue according to our five-pair arrangement and incorporated its first four pairs into Leviticus 19.

Pairs A

Leviticus 19

AL

א וידבר יהוה אל משה לאמר בדבר אל כל עדת בני ישראל ואמרת אלהם קדשים תהיו כי קדוש אני יהוה אלהיכם

AR

יא לא תגנבו ולא תכחשו ולא תשקרו איש בעמיתו

יב ולא תשבעו בשמי לשקר וחללת את שם אלהיך

Exodus 20

AL

ב אנכי יהוה אלהיך … כי אנכי יהוה אלהיך אל קנא פקד עון אבת על בנים על שלשים ועל רבעים לשנאי הועשה חסד לאלפים לאהבי ולשמרי מצותי

AR

ו לא תשא את שם יהוה אלהיך לשוא כי לא ינקה יהוה את אשר ישא את שמו לשוא

Leviticus 19

AL

1The Lord spoke to Moses, saying: 2Speak to the whole Israelite community and say to them: You shall be holy, for I, the Lord your God, am holy.

AR

11You shall not steal; you shall not deal deceitfully or falsely with one another. 12You shall not swear falsely by My name, profaning the name of your God

Exodus 20

AL

2I the Lord am your God … For I the Lord your God am an impassioned God

AR

7You shall not swear falsely by the name of the Lord your God; for the Lord will not clear one who swears falsely by His name.

Pair A in the Lev structure precisely corresponds to pair A in the Decalogue. In the first element, L, God speaks about Himself, while the second, R, speaks of His name. The common subject of both pairs is God, His substance (L) and His name (R). Pair A in Lev also contains clear references to pair D in the Dec, stealing and lying testimony. לא תגנבו ולא תכחשו ולא תשקרו איש בעמיתו‎ (“You shall not steal; you shall not deal deceitfully or falsely with one another”) is virtually identical to לא תגנוב, לא תענה ברעך עד שקר‎ (“You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor”). So we have references to two Decalogue pairs in the first Leviticus 19 pair, one in place, parallel to the first Decalogue pair, and one out of place, parallel to the fourth Decalogue pair. The parallel with the Decalogue pair A is especially impressive because it contains a one-to-one correspondence between both AL and AR. The parallel between Lev pair A and Decalogue pair D is more distant because both DL and DR of the Decalogue appear in AR of Lev. We will see that even this out-of-place parallel is part of a systematic plan.

Pairs B

Leviticus 19

BL

ג איש אמו ואביו תיראו ואת שבתתי תשמרו

BR

יג לא תעשק את רעך ולא תגזל…

Dec

BL

ז זכור את יום השבת לקדשו…

BR

יא כבד את אביך ואת אמך למען יארכון ימיך על האדמה אשר יהוה אלהיך נתן לך

Leviticus 19

BL

3You shall each revere his mother and his father, and keep My Sabbaths

BR

13You shall not defraud your neighbor.…

Dec

BL

8Remember the sabbath day and keep it holy …

BR

12Honor your father and your mother, that you may lengthen your days on the land that the Lord your God is assigning to you.

Leviticus 19 pair B, like Lev pair A, contains obvious literal references to the parallel Decalogue pair. איש אמו ואביו תיראו‎ (“You shall each revere his mother and his father (Lev–BL) reflects כבד את אביך ואת אמך‎ (“Honor your father and your mother”) (Dec–BR), and ואת שבתתי תשמרו‎ (“keep My Sabbaths”) (Lev–BL) reflects זכור את יום השבת‎ (“Remember the Sabbath day”) (Dec–BL). However, in this case there is not a one-to-one correspondence because both Decalogue Words appear in Lev–BL, much as we saw both Decalogue D Words in Lev AR. We have now identified three of the Decalogue pairs in Leviticus 19, so there can be no doubt that the author of Leviticus 19 was working with the five-pair arrangement of the Decalogue according to the MT division.

Pairs C

Leviticus 19

CL

ד אל תפנו אל האלילים ואלהי מסכה לא תעשו לכם

CR

טו לא תעשו עול במשפט לא תשא פני דל ולא תהדר פני גדול בצדק תשפט עמיתך

טז לא תלך רכיל בעמיך לא תעמד על דם רעך

Dec

CL

יב לא תרצח

CR

לא תנאף

Leviticus 19

CL

4Do not turn to idols or make molten gods for yourselves

CR

15You shall not render an unfair decision: do not favor the poor or show deference to the rich; judge your neighbor fairly. 16Do not deal basely with your countrymen. Do not profit by the blood of your fellow

Dec

CL

13You shall not murder.

CR

You shall not commit adultery.

All six of the “ancient and modern” attempts to find the Decalogue in Leviticus 19 quoted by Milgrom connect לא תעמד על דם רעך‎ (“Do not profit by the blood of your fellow”) with לא תרצח‎ (“You shall not murder”). The prophet Ezekiel is almost certainly referring to Lev. 19:16 לא תלך רכיל בעמיך לא תעמד על דם רעך‎ in Ez. 22:9 אנשי רכיל היו בך למען שפך דם‎ (“In thee have been talebearers to shed blood”) (Old JPS), equating murder with “talebearing” (“dealing basely” in NJPS). However, regardless of the precise meaning of the obscure phrase תעמד על דם‎ and its connection with talebearing, it can only refer to a figurative murder. Our comparative reading of the two structures makes it possible to demonstrate that the author of Leviticus 19 created the “figurative” murder in order to match a figurative adultery.

The Decalogue’s לא תנאף‎ (“You shall not commit adultery”), is matched in Leviticus 19 CL by אל תפנו אל האלילים ואלהי מסכה לא תעשו לכם‎ (“Do not turn to idols or make molten gods for yourselves”). While the figurative usage of זנות‎ (prostitution) meaning “idolatry” is widespread, נאוף‎, adultery, with this meaning appears together with the figurative use of “prostitution” in Jeremiah 3:9. והיה מקל זנותה ותחנף את הארץ ותנאף את האבן ואת העץ‎ (“and it came to pass through the lightness of her harlotry, that the land was polluted, and she committed adultery with stones and with stocks”). It is clear now that the author of Leviticus 19 has created figurative parallels to both Words of pair C. The figuration of the parallel Decalogue Words is accompanied by a reversal of their placement. Lev CL links to Decalogue CR and Lev CR links to Decalogue CL. We have now seen that each of the first four Decalogue pairs has a parallel in Leviticus 19. Decalogue pair E has no parallel in Leviticus 19. The following table summarizes what we have learned about the links between the Decalogue pairs and Leviticus 19.

The Links Create a Five-Step Process

Table 8. The Arrangement of Decalogue Pair References in Lev 19

1
Dec.
pair

2
Appears
in Lev
pair

3
Lev L
contains

4
Lev R
contains

5
Type of
link to Lev

6
Summary of
Decalogue pair links
in Leviticus 19

A

A

L

R

Literal

Complete one-to-one in row correspondence, literal link

B

B

L+R

Literal

In-row literal link, one Word in wrong column

C

C

R

L

Figurative

In-row figurative link, both Words in wrong columns

D

A

R+L

Literal

Literal link in wrong row, one Word in wrong column

E

-

-

-

None

No link

The above table summarizes the references to each Decalogue pair in Leviticus 19. Column 1 lists the Decalogue pairs and column 2 indicates in which Lev pair the Decalogue pair appears. Columns 3 and 4 indicate which Word of the Decalogue pair appears in which column of Leviticus 19. Column 5 describes what type of link exists between the pairs. Column 6 summarizes the characteristics of each link.

Each Decalogue pair has been linked to Leviticus 19 in a unique way. The extremes are the most obvious. Decalogue pair A has a one-to-one literal link with Leviticus 19 pair A, while Decalogue pair E has no link whatsoever with Leviticus 19. The three intermediate Decalogue pairs are each linked to Leviticus 19 to a different degree. Decalogue pair B is almost like A in that it appears with literal references to it in the parallel Lev pair, but one of its elements, R, is in the wrong column. Decalogue pair C is less closely connected to its parallel pair in Leviticus 19 than B because both of its elements are in the wrong columns. In addition, the references to it in Leviticus 19 are not literal, but figurative. Finally, Decalogue pair D is totally out of place, appearing in Lev pair A. We can see from the table that the author of Leviticus 19 has manipulated the arrangement of the Decalogue pairs in order to create a sequence that is similar to the process of separation we identified in section three as “the progression of the pairs.” The following table will clarify this point.

Table 9. The Progression of Lev 19 Pairs and Decalogue Pairs

From: The Progression of the Pairs in Section Three

From: The Arrangement of Decalogue Pair References in Leviticus 19

Pair

Common Structure in Each Unit of Pair

Connection/
Process of Separation

Summary of appearance of Decalogue pair in Leviticus 19

A

Two causally related clauses
with linguistic links between them

Inseparable

Complete one-to-one in row correspondence, literal link

B

Two segments linked by implied causal relationship,

with linguistic link between units

Equivocally Inseparable

In-row literal link, one Word in wrong column

C

Two segments linked by similar content but without linguistic links

Linked-Separable

In-row figurative link, both Words in wrong column

D

Two fully articulated unlinked elements

Partially separated

Literal link in wrong row, one Word in wrong column

E

Three fully articulated elements separated by pseudo-closings

Fully separated

No link

The above table is composed of sections of two previous tables, “the progression of the pairs” from section three of this paper and the arrangement of the Decalogue pair references in this section. The comparison demonstrates that the two progressions are identical because the central column, which was originally created to describe the process of separation in the pairs of Leviticus 19, also precisely describes the procession of the links to the Decalogue. The comparison also justifies our decision to see a non-literal link between the C pairs, because the common structure of pair C in Leviticus 19, as noted above, lacks the linguistic links that are found in pairs A and B. This point emphasizes just how much attention the author gave to engineering the parallels with the Decalogue. The result is the extraordinarily ordered set of links that demonstrates the same organizing principle as the pairs of Leviticus 19.

We have now seen three applications of a single five-step process: 1) the formal structure of the pairs in Leviticus 19; 2) references to God within these pairs; 3) references to the pairs of Words in the Decalogue. A close reading of the Decalogue, as arranged above, will reveal the same progression from pair to pair, as well as the same definitions for its columns, as we suggested for the columns of Leviticus 19. While this is not the place for a close reading of the Decalogue, nevertheless, we cannot avoid speculating why the author of Leviticus 19 was so intent on connecting it with the Decalogue.

Hypothetical Explanation

We will now consider a hypothesis that explains why Leviticus 19 contains the formal structures we have found in it and the links to the Decalogue. The hypothesis is based on an analogical reading of Leviticus, which can be seen as a development of the approach pioneered by Mary Douglas. I have proposed elsewhere that Leviticus can be read as containing three concentric rings of material.22 Each ring emulates an aspect of the Tabernacle; the outer ring the courtyard, the middle ring the Holy Place and the inner ring the Holy of Holies. According to this reading, Leviticus 19 is at the focus of the three rings. We can interpret its position within the ring of the Holy of Holies to imply that it represents the Ark of the Covenant. This would explain in part the appearance of Decalogue elements within the chapter, as well as the sixteen first-person divine speeches. The Ark of the Covenant served as the receptacle for the stone tablets as well as the source of divine communication between the cherubs.

The solution that I propose is consistent with the view mentioned in the Talmud that the Ark contained the fragments of the first set of tablets as well as the intact second set.23 The hypothesis I propose is that the fragmented parallels to the Decalogue in Leviticus 19 are to be seen as the fragments of the first tablets, while the five-pair structure embedded in the chapter should be seen as parallel to the second tablets. Part of the function of the embedded structure might be to offer an exegesis of the Decalogue.

The theory I propose has the added advantage of explaining what seems to be a great oversight in rabbinic exegesis of the Decalogue. Rabbinic commentaries, and earlier Philo, divide the Decalogue into ten parts differently than the MT. This is striking because the Decalogue is divided according to the MT in every Torah scroll in every synagogue. In other words, the rabbinic exegetical tradition is in conflict with the received text of the Torah. According to the theory I will present, it is quite possible that the rabbis suppressed the MT reading, and consequently, the five-pair reading of Leviticus 19. If so, their reason could be based on the reported difference between the two different sets of stone tablets.

Moses reportedly brought down the first set of tablets in his hands. Had he entered the camp with them, instead of shattering them, everyone would have been able to see the writing on them. The second tablets were different, as described in Deut 10:1–5.

א בעת ההוא אמר יהוה אלי פסל לך שני לוחת אבנים כראשנים ועלה אלי ההרה ועשית לך ארון עץ: בואכתב על הלחת את הדברים אשר היו על הלחת הראשנים אשר שברת ושמתם בארון: גואעש ארון עצי שטים ואפסל שני לחת אבנים כראשנים ואעל ההרה ושני הלחת בידי: דויכתב על הלחת כמכתב הראשון את עשרת הדברים אשר דבר יהוה אליכם בהר מתוך האש ביום הקהל ויתנם יהוה אלי: הואפן וארד מן ההר ואשם את הלחת בארון אשר עשיתי ויהיו שם כאשר צוני יהוה:

1Thereupon the Lord said to me, “Carve out two tablets of stone like the first, and come up to Me on the mountain; and make an ark of wood. 2I will inscribe on the tablets the commandments that were on the first tablets that you smashed, and you shall deposit them in the ark. 3I made an ark of acacia wood and carved out two tablets of stone like the first; I took the two tablets with me and went up the mountain. 4The Lord inscribed on the tablets the same text as on the first, the Ten Commandments that He addressed to you on the mountain out of the fire on the day of the Assembly; and the Lord gave them to me. 5Then I left and went down from the mountain, and I deposited the tablets in the ark that I had made, where they still are, as the Lord had commanded me.

The second tablets were to be placed in the box as soon as Moses descended from Mt. Sinai. No one was to see the writing on the tablets other than Moses. We can then say that the first tablets were exoteric, available to all, while the second tablets were esoteric, available only to Moses. We can learn from this that one set of tablets was exoteric and shattered, and the other was esoteric and whole. We have found a truly esoteric five-paired text in Leviticus 19 as well as fragments of the Decalogue according to the MT divisions. The MT provides a five-paired reading that replicates the five-step process we uncovered in Leviticus 19. I suspect that the process itself is in some way connected with the esoteric knowledge hidden in the Ark and suppressed by following generations.

The Mishnah hints that the five-pair MT arrangement was considered esoteric. The first chapter of Mesechet Avot traces the esoteric (oral) tradition from Moses to the fathers of the reputed author of the Mishnah, R’ Yehudah Hanasi. This chapter contains a five-pair structure, which has all the signs of an esoteric text. A close reading of this structure reveals that it was composed as a parallel to the five-pair MT-divided Decalogue and contains multiple linguistic and conceptual links to it. This document can be read as R’ Yehudah Hanasi’s commentary on the esoteric Decalogue. When read together with the five-pair structure of Leviticus 19, it opens a new door to exegesis. Deo volente, I will present this material in the not too distant future.

5. Analysis and Exegesis of Leviticus 19:19b–25, Wenham’s Unit [9]

Introduction

At this point, we are in a position similar to the mechanic who has rebuilt a motor only to find that there are a handful of parts left over. To continue this metaphor, our motor is up and running, showing no need whatsoever for the remaining pieces, verses 19b–25, unit [9]. With the engine purring so beautifully, there is an enormous temptation to chuck the left over nuts and bolts with a response like “the editor was nodding.” Unfortunately, all the evidence we have gathered demonstrates that the editor was not nodding. In fact, there is no reason to posit the existence of an editor or redactor at all. The alignment of all the fine details of the five-pair, two-column structure indicates that we are reading an authored composition. No committee or series of editors could have constructed this chapter. It is just too coherent, given all its complexity. Therefore, unless we can prove otherwise, we will have to deal with unit [9] as part of the planned document. Close examination will have to show us what to do with the remaining nuts and bolts.

Table 10. The Three-Part Structure of Unit [9]

La

בהמתך לא תרביע כלאים

Ma

כ ואיש כי ישכב את אשה שכבת זרע והוא שפחה נחרפת לאיש והפדה לא נפדתה או חפשה לא נתן לה בקרת תהיה לא יומתו כי לא חפשה

Ra

כג וכי תבאו אל הארץ ונטעתם כל עץ מאכל וערלתם ערלתו את פריו שלש שנים יהיה לכם ערלים לא יאכל

Lb

שדך לא תזרע כלאים

Mb

כא והביא את אשמו ליהוה אל פתח אהל מועד איל אשם כב וכפר עליו הכהן באיל האשם לפני יהוה על חטאתו אשר חטא

Rb

כד ובשנה הרביעת יהיה הלולים ליהוה כל פריו קדש

Lc

ובגד כלאים שעטנז לא יעלה עליך

Mc

ונסלח לו מחטאתו אשר חטא

Rc

כה ובשנה החמישת תאכלו את פריו להוסיף לכם תבואתו אני יהוה אלהיכם

La

You shall not let your cattle mate with a different kind;

Ma

20 If a man has carnal relations with a woman who is a slave and has been designated for another man, but has not been redeemed or given her freedom, there shall be an indemnity (inquest-Milgrom); they shall not, however, be put to death, since she has not been freed.

Ra

23 When you enter the land and plant any tree for food, you shall regard its fruit as forbidden. Three years it shall be forbidden for you, not to be eaten.

Lb

you shall not sow your field with two kinds of seed;

Mb

21 But he must bring to the entrance of the Tent of Meeting, as his guilt offering to the Lord, a ram of guilt offering. 22 With the ram of guilt offering the priest shall make expiation for him before the Lord for the sin that he committed;

Rb

24 In the fourth year all its fruit shall be set aside for jubilation before the Lord;

Lc

you shall not put on cloth from a mixture of two kinds of material.

Mc

and the sin that he committed will be forgiven him.

Rc

25 and only in the fifth year may you use its fruit that its yield to you may be increased: I the Lord am your God.

Fractal Triads

Unit [9] is composed of three seemingly unrelated subjects: v. 19b, mixing types, vv. 20–22, intercourse with a promised slave woman, and vv. 23–25, first fruits. I have placed the three subject elements in three columns, Left, Middle, and Right in the above table. Each column is itself divided into three parts, a, b, and c. The division within column M needs some clarification. My division of M is based on three discernable stages: a) a man sins by having sexual intercourse with a betrothed slave woman; b) he repents by means of a ram offering; c) he is forgiven. The unit is thus composed of triads of two different orders, the whole three-part unit and the three, three-part columns. This makes it a fractal, a text in which the parts have the same structure as the whole. Besides the single closing formula, this tight structure is the first indication that the unit must be dealt with as a whole, rather than as an assortment of laws. We will now see that a single theme integrates the diverse parts.

Reproduction

Each of the three columns begins with a similar act: L, “mate”; M, “has carnal relations”; R, “plant”. Although these three actions are different, they share a kernel of similarity, much as the three elements of column L. The more closely we observe the details of the columns, the clearer the picture that appears. In La, no actual engendering takes place; it is forbidden. The next column begins with an act of intercourse, Ma. In the third column, planting is just a preliminary; the main subject is the fruit. The three columns form an ordered set. At first, in L, we are presented with potential breeding and sowing of seeds. However, since the mixtures are forbidden, they exist only as potential, seeds. This is followed by actual sowing, intercourse, in M, and finally, harvesting the first fruits of planting in R. The order is “realization” or increase, L, seeds; M, sowing; R, harvesting. This theme is emphasized in the last words before the closing formula, להוסיף לכם תבואתו‎ (“that its yield to you may be increased”).

A Mixed Metaphor

It appears that [9] is conceptually unified by means of a single metaphor, reproduction, even though it combines animals, people and plants to create the total image. The author has integrated diverse laws into a single theme, one that is inaccessible without an understanding of the structure. While we have considered, primarily, matters of formal structure in the previous sections, we have also gathered evidence that an understanding of the structure has the potential to deepen our understanding of meanings inherent in the text. Perhaps the clearest example of the interplay between structure and meaning that we have encountered so far was the analysis of the references to God vis à vis the pairs. We found a clear structural rule behind the distribution of these references. Nevertheless, it is impossible to relegate references to God within the units to a purely technical function in the arrangement of the chapter, as opposed to the closing formula, which marks off the units. The references to God are inseparable from the meaning. The case of [9] is even more dramatic. Identifying the structure has led us to see that the text demands to be read metaphorically. It may be, that the author has inserted this apparently out-of-place unit in an otherwise magnificently coherent chapter in order to indicate that the formal structure must lead to a metaphorical interpretation of the entire chapter. In any case, we will take the opportunity regarding [9] to explore the way structural analysis can lead to metaphorical exegesis. But before we take the leap, let us be completely certain that unit [9] is a coherent element in the overall plan of Leviticus 19.

Does [9] Fit In?

Since we have seen that the other ten units can be viewed as a table consisting of five rows and two columns, we should try to determine whether [9] fits into this tabular structure. There are arguments both pro and con. The fact that it is not a member of a pair would seem to preclude the possibility of integrating it into the tabular structure. However, there are other indications that the structure of [9] creates a good fit where it appears, between pairs D and E. Like the units of E, it contains three well defined parts. Unlike E, there is no formal division between the parts of [9]. So [9] can be seen as a stage before the fully articulated triads of E. In fact, structurally, [9] is a perfect fit between the dyads of D and the fully articulated triads of E. We can deduce from this bit of analysis that [9], as we find it, containing three separate subjects, is a coherent element of the overall plan of Leviticus 19.

Unit [9] and the Columns

Now that we have determined that [9] belongs where it is, we have to ask ourselves how it relates to the two-column, five-row structure of the remaining units of the chapter. Could it be the exception “that comes to teach about the rule”? If so, which rule? I want to suggest that we view it figuratively as a clasp that holds the two columns together. In this view, columns L and R of unit [9] link into columns L and R of the larger structure while 9M bridges the columns.

Table 11

L

R

AL

AR

BL

BR

CL

CR

DL

DR

9L

9M

9R

EL

ER

Unit [9] can be read as the key to the chapter in much the same way that a map has a key to its symbols. The two extreme elements of [9], 9L and 9R, characterize the columns, while M indicates how to integrate them. In order to see the relationship between columns L and R in the larger structure of the chapter and 9L and 9R, we need to do two things. First, we must clarify some of the characteristics of 9L and 9R. Then we will review what we learned about the columns.

Legal Order

As soon as we see that the three columns of [9] form an ordered triad according to the theme of reproduction, it becomes apparent that it contains other themes that can also be read as ordered triads. One of these is found by considering the legal format of each of the columns. All the mixtures of the first section, 9L, are strictly forbidden. On the other hand, planting fruit trees, column R, is a positive commandment, and the fruit of the fifth year is the source of the blessing of plenty. In the center, between the negative of L and the positive of 9R, falls the shadow, the gray area. Intercourse with the promised slave is neither condoned nor fully punishable. The middle column is a conceptual middle. It includes the sense of “forbidden” in its first element, 9Ma, like all of column 9L; and like column 9R it contains a positive element, the assurance of forgiveness in 9Mc.

One and Many

All the verbs in 9L are in the singular while all those in 9R are in the plural. The prohibitions of 9L are addressed to an individual while the obligations of 9R are addressed to a collective. This distinction between an individual and society as a whole clarifies the introduction to Ra: “When you come into the land.” It indicates an historical perspective applicable to the group rather than an individual. Considering that 9M concerns a couple, we can see that the three elements are ordered: L) one; M) two; R) many. We should note that that the subjects of the three elements of [9] have been chosen to emphasize the numeric relationship indicated by the verb forms. The subject of 9L is separation or uniqueness, 9R stresses increase, and 9M concerns a couple.24 The emphasis on these numeric considerations will play a significant role in the exegesis of the unit. We have now seen that the three segments of [9] display three principles of organization: 1) the theme of reproduction; 2) legal order; 3) numerical order. The last two principles will help us connect [9] with the columns of the larger structure.

Reviewing the Columns

Regarding the columns, we began with Wenham’s distinction between religious duties in L and ethical duties in R. We have continued using this dyad as a matter of convenience although we have already noted that there may be a more basic dyad underlying the distinction between the columns. We considered the possibility that column L could be read as “private” duties as opposed to the “public” duties of R. This distinction is consistent with the fact that there are no interactions with people outside of the family in L, while R is based entirely on such interactions. The dyad “private-public” fits the numeric characteristic of [9]. 9L uses the singular and its content deals with individualization; 9R uses the plural and is concerned with “increase.”

Other characteristics of the columns of the table are also similar to the columns of [9]. We noted that both of our original columns have “direction”, indicated by an inner process. Column L is directed toward the negative and R toward the positive. These tendencies are consistent with what we found in [9]; 9L is negative and 9R is positive. There is another correlation between [9] and a characteristic of the larger structure, which we have not yet touched on. Each “unmixable” element of 9L points to a class of objects. 9R on the other hand is concerned with a process that is not only agricultural, but is also historical, “When you enter the land.” This historical process is picked up in ERb, “you were aliens in the land of Egypt”, and in ERc “who freed you from the land of Egypt.” EL has no such references. Like 9L it is concerned with objects rather than process.

It is quite clear now that unit [9] is not only a coherent part of Leviticus 19, but also provides verification for two of our conclusions concerning the structure of the chapter. First, because it fits structurally between the pairs of D and the articulated triads of E, it verifies our identification of the triads in E as planning elements. Second, because the poles of [9] fit the pattern of the columns of the larger structure, we have verification that the author saw a distinction between the columns that could be defined in terms of individual (L) and community (R).

A Reading of [9]

Reading the poles of 9L and 9R as “individual and community” provides an excellent framework for understanding 9M while creating the metaphorical exegesis we mentioned earlier. The narrative of column 9M depicts the tension between the desires of an individual and the accepted social norms. The protagonist has a one-night fling with a promised slave. He cannot have serious intentions. She is both a slave and promised to another man, if she is released. The language of the text emphasizes that this is a one-off event. The word that we have been translating “betrothed”, נחרפת‎, appears nowhere else in the Torah. In addition, בקרת‎, (“an inquiry”) also has no parallel in the Torah. This unique event is described in unique language. There is no crime of adultery since a slave cannot actually be engaged. Still, a public hearing is held in order to make known society’s disapproval. Even though this brief affair is not a crime or a sin, properly speaking, it is also not socially acceptable. This is indicated by the parallel use of חטא here and in DR, הוכח תוכיח את עמיתך ולא תשא עליו חטא‎, (“Reprove your fellow but incur no guilt because of him”) to point to a social rather than religious offense. If the offending individual cannot achieve retribution for his offense to society through punishment, what channels are left open to him? He must turn from his private passions, to a renewed identification with social norms. He demonstrates his identification with the common weal by presenting himself at the central social institution, the Tabernacle, with his guilt offering in hand. A public official, the priest, accepts the offering and effects his atonement before God. After he has participated in the ritual of atonement, he is forgiven and returns to the fold. The individual of 9L and the group of 9R have made peace through the conceptual middle, 9M, and by means of this exegesis, we have bound together columns L and R.

I offer the above reading of unit [9] in full knowledge that it is highly speculative. Nevertheless, I consider it to be important as an example of the goal of the type of close reading I have presented in this article. I have attempted to integrate in it the characteristics of the text revealed by our analysis. I consider this integration to be the goal of close reading.

The Place of Chapter 19 in the Plan of Leviticus

Towards the end of the previous section, we considered an analogical reading of Leviticus according to which Leviticus 19 represents the Ark of the Covenant.25 Our analysis of [9] enables us to clarify this analogy. It is based on a reading that sees Leviticus arranged with three concentric rings of material around Leviticus 19. Each ring is a literary parallel to one of the three parts of the Tabernacle: the innermost, closest to Leviticus 19, the Holy of Holies; the middle ring, the Holy Place; the outer ring the courtyard. This configuration is not actually similar to the Tabernacle because it was not arranged in rings. The analogy does not fit. It order to see Leviticus as the Tabernacle, we have to consider the experience of the reader. Moreover, the reader must be viewed as analogous to the High Priest on the Day of Atonement.

The experience of reading Leviticus according to its (non-linear) literary structure has two components. The first traces the path of the High Priest inwards and the second covers the same path but facing outwards. This explains the ring format. In order to understand the differences between otherwise parallel material, such as Lev 18 and 20, it is only necessary to consider the two different perspectives of the High Priest. The first half of his “trip” is a turning inwards to face God one-to-one. For the second half, he must do an about face and turn outwards to the waiting community. Each stage thus has an inward facing and an outward facing phase. To clarify this point let us consider chapters 18 and 20, which seem to contain unnecessary duplications of sexual prohibitions. The difference between them is that chapter 18, containing only the prohibitions, is addressed to individuals who might be tempted to engage in the prohibited acts. Chapter 20, on the other hand, containing punishments, is addressed to the community, which must carry out the punishments. This distinction characterizes the two perspectives of the inward and outward paths. Chapter 19 is the turning point and contains within it one column, L, addressed to the individual facing inwards, and one, R, addressed to the outward facing individual. Unit [9], and especially 9M, would then reflect the actual turning point. It would indeed seem that the “editor” was not nodding.

[1] Mary Douglas, In The Wilderness (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001), p. xxiii

[2] Christophe Nihan, From Priestly Torah to Pentateuch: a study in the composition of the book of Leviticus (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2007), p. 460

[3] Martin Noth, Leviticus, (London: SCM Press, 1962), p. 138

[4] Frank H. Gorman Jr., Divine Presence and Community, (Grand Rapids, Mich. Eerdmans, 1997), p. 111

[5] For references to previous studies of the Decalogue and Leviticus 19 see Alfred Marx, “The relationship Between the Sacrificial Laws and the other Laws in Leviticus 19” Journal of Hebrew Scriptures 8 (2008), article 9, n. 9 available at http://www.jhsonline.org

[6] Baruch J. Schwartz, The Holiness Legislation: Studies in the Priestly Code (Jerusalem: Magnes, 1999), pp. 372–374

[7] Gordon J. Wenham, The Book of Leviticus, (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1979), pp. 263–264

[8] Jonathan Magonet, “The Structure and Meaning of Leviticus 19”, HAR 7 (1983), pp. 151–167

[9] Schwartz, p. 269 and 365 fn. 3;

Jacob Milgrom, Leviticus 17–22 (AB; New York. NY: Doubleday, 2000), pp. 1597–8

[10] Milgrom, ibid.

[11] See n.

[12] Ibid.

[13] Richard A. Allbee, “Asymmetrical Continuity of Love and law between the Old and New Testaments: Explicating the Implicit Side of a Hermeneutic Bridge”, JSOT 31 (2006), p. 149

[14] Milgrom, p. 1596

[15] Wenham, p. 267

[16] BDB, pp. 251–255

[17] Moshe Kline, “The Literary Structure of Leviticus”, The Biblical Historian, Journal of the Biblical Colloquium West, vol.2, number1 (2005), pp. 12–29; http://chaver.com/Torah-New/English/Articles/The Literary Structure of Leviticus (TBH).pdf

[18] James L. Kugel, How To read The Bible (New York, NY: Free Press, 2007), p. 250

[19] Milgrom, p. 1600

[20] Ibid.

[21] Schwartz, pp. 372–377

[22] See note

[23] TB, BB, 14b

[24] The significance of the distinction between “one” and “many” cannot be overestimated. It is built into the biblical metaphysic by means of the creation narrative, distinguishing between the first three days and the next three.

[25] See note