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Henry Neufeld

Thanks for posting this. Good stuff about my favorite book - Leviticus. I also found Milgrom's arguments on the dating of P & H convincing.

Gary Simmons

Reading Leviticus from the beginning always makes me hungry.


You're welcome, Henry. More to come.

Gary, and you thought John 3:16 was important. What about Leviticus 3:16?

G. Kyle Essary (Ranger)

It's interesting to (re)read Lev. 17-26 in light of 8th-6th century concerns.

I recently excitedly told a member of our church plant that I wanted to preach on Leviticus after we finished our current which he sighed and said, "Oh no" (with a grin). I can't wait!


That's something everyone but minimalists and old-fashioned documentarians can agree on: Lev 17-26 would have been (re)read in light of 8th-6th century concerns, in the 8th-6th centuries.

Gary Simmons

Gary, and you thought John 3:16 was important. What about Leviticus 3:16?

I'm putting Lev 3:16 as my "Religious Views" on facebook now. Before it was Romans 1:16-18. (Political Views is set to Matthew 11:7)

Alan Lenzi

"The Priestly writers were also radical social and religious reformers." Intellectuals just can't leave the status quo alone, can they? I'm reading Peter Gay's The Enlightenment: An Interpretation and seeing the same thing to be true of the Philosophes. Once one starts to think for oneself, it's hard to resist the urge to tell others about what one has discovered.

G. Kyle Essary

Despite focusing on the Hebrew Bible in my studies (well after the undergrad in theology), I've never spent as much time in Leviticus as I've wanted (thus, I'm really excited about preaching through it) and thus am totally unaware as to how scholars date the various parts of the text.

Fred Glynn

When Ezra wrote Leviticus 25 he was planning ahead so that he and those who would be traveling to Jerusalem together could dispossess the descendants of those who had stayed behind. The Jubilee becomes a lot easier to understand when you think about the genealogies that Ezra created for those who had underwritten the trip and how they might be applied using the legislation in Leviticus 25.



I don't follow you. A number of scholars who have dedicated great energy to research on the Holiness Code, people like Milgrom and Knohl, date Leviticus 25 to the pre-exilic period.

The notion that Ezra wrote the Holiness Code, or Lev 25 in particular, is a rabbit out of a hat. At best, attribution to Ezra is one possibility among many.

You speak with blissful confidence. If you want your ideas to be taken seriously, the pros and cons of various hypotheses need to be discussed.

Truman 1

Truman 1,

I don’t agree with owning slaves in any way even if they are treated well, but it still happens. In the Bible there are still slaves however, they are treated much better then we have throughout our history. Plantation owners beating their slaves because they didn’t work hard enough or even killing them is far from the way most were meant to be treated according to the Bible. The book talks about giving respect to slaves. I think that from what I have read that we are not meant to have slaves. A good example of this is when Moses leads his people out of Egypt and removes them from slavery. I don’t believe that God intended for us to own others as property.

Truman 1

Truman 1,

One more thought from today’s class. Another area that I find interesting is the Sabbath. In the Bible God rests on the seventh day and he intends for us to do the same because we were made out of his image however, many of us fail to do so. I am also one that fails to live up to God’s wishes at times. I think that as a society we forget about this because of the way we schedule and plan things. For example many times individuals are working on the weekends and not taking that rest. Many times I think it is because we may need the money to support or families or it may even be our employers that make us work. There are other examples as well. As it was said in class the Sabbath should be about learning of God and helping others if needed.

Shawshank redemption 5

I’ve personally never heard the reference of “the priestly writers of the Bible,” but reading it now made me think, who did write the Bible? Obviously it wasn’t God or Jesus. Who had all the knowledge that fills the Bible, like of the Creation and all the tales of the prophets? I was so intrigued that I actually asked Google, “Who wrote the Bible?” The first legitimate site what came up was It told me that the Bible was written on a 1,500 year span by many different writers, yet every book was consistent with its message. Over this time period, 668 prophecies were fulfilled and though three are unconfirmed, none were proven false. I found this all very interesting.
“H” and Ezekiel not only helped to write the Bible, but they also helped to create the idea of theology, something still taught today. It’s fascinating how relate-able the Bible’s teachings still are. We still refer to Sunday or Saturday–depending on if you’re Jewish or Christian- as the Sabbath. The Sabbath was originally Saturday but some claim that a mandate by Constantine in A.D. 321 “changed” the Sabbath from Saturday to Sunday. That is why some religions call different days the Sabbath.


When Jews and Christians refer to God as the author of the Bible or some such, what is meant is that God is understood to speak through the words of scripture and thus through the authors of scripture. It's a both/and sort of thing.

chariots of fire 3

I think that Leviticus’ attempt to abolish slavery among family and fellow country people is a very noble thing to do especially during the time period. Leviticus trying to abolish any type of slavery is an extremely good thing to do, but I wouldn’t go as far as to call him the holiest of the holies it just makes him a good man for his time. On the other hand I completely agree with the way you described priestly writers, and I think that you brought up a lot of good examples of the reason you feel that way about them.

Pulp Fiction 4

Truman 1,

I agree with you completely, I do not believe in owning slaves either, and even though it is in the Bible, I think it is wrong. You bring up a good point of how God probably did not intend to have slaves be treated the way they were throughout our history. The Bible says we are suppose to treat slaves with respect, but the more I read, you are right, I don't think anybody should be treated as property, it is just not right.

shawshank redemption 5

I had no idea that slavery was abolished in the Bible at all. I share your hope that someday more people will read Leviticus 25 and realize how wrong it was to have ever had slaves. America had slaves way too long and there are still people treated like slaves in other countries. No one is better than anyone, no one owns anyone else. I think priestly writers like “H” and Ezekiel were truly great for being so radical in their time. It takes courage and passion to express your true feelings, especially when your views are not commonly accepted. They also gave us the Sabbath, which is still practiced by very many people today.

Nell 4

Truman 1 does make a good point. I would agree with many that owning slaves is simply not right. It doesn't matter at all if you treat them with respect or not, one needs to be treated as a human being.

And obviously slavery has been around since the Bible, because many people know the story of Moses and how he led his people out of Egypt due to harsh slavery. So from this act of slavery in the Bible, and along with others as well, slavery developed pretty much because of the Bible and continued throughout history.

Dead Man Walking 3

Throughout Leviticus 25 there is a point to not have slaves, fear God, and work together. Nobody should use the other person because cooperation is needed to make an honorable living, and have food. Lev. 25: 17 “You shall not cheat each other, but you shall fear your God; for I am the Lord your God.” Again at verse 36 is states “Do not take interest in advance or otherwise make a profit from them, but fear your God…” God really talks about working together all as equals. He references slaves because at the time there were slaves, people picked this up and saw how he made rules about treating your slaves well in Genesis that they all thought owning slavery was the right thing. I believe everyone was created equal, and in Leviticus 25 you really see that god tries to get across the fact that everyone should work and take breaks at the same time. Everyone needs to work together to get by.

Shawshank Redemption 4

I am confused with the term, "priestly writers". What or who are they? And reading these other blog posts, I also caught myself wondering, who did write the bible? Obviously God or Jesus didn't. Do you know who did? And then it leads me to the question of how do they know all of this stuff? Is it just hear-say? So many questions in religion its amazing. I was also going to use a passage from Lev. 25: 17 that Dead Man Walking 3 used, Lev. 25: 17 “You shall not cheat each other, but you shall fear your God; for I am the Lord your God.” And they wrote exactly what I was thinking. I too believe that everyone was created equal and slavery came from an idea God didn't intend. Working together is key in life to all get along and become successful.

breaker morant 2

I am glad there is someone else with as many questions as me. One question i have, is in Lev.25:17, "You shall fear your God;for i am the Lord your God". Why would one fear their God, if God is the one whom they believe in and turn to for anything? Wouldn't you assume they would be too scared to pray and ask for help if fear consumed them?

Pulp Fiction 3

I will agree with many past bloggers, that I feel God would never intend for us to “own” other people as slaves. We were mistreating and abusing our lives and others lives as well. I feel God would never have intended this to happen for anyone. With the abolishment in Leviticus, well its a good start isn’t it? If the Bible were such a read, and honored piece of reading/ scripture, why weren’t the slave acts respected through the generations. It goes along with the fact that not all of us can respect and follow the Sabbath. To change our lives from what we are used to something else because of a “book” is hard. Don’t get me wrong, I am pretty strong in faith, but how many of you can honestly say you follow everything the Bible has sent down to us?

Shawshank Redemption3

I also agree that God never intended for there to be Slavery, but it happened. Like discussed in other blog posts God had to teach Israel a lesson. They had to fall away and in turn he saved them. But as far as more resent acts of slavery like pulp fiction 3 said that not everyone follows the laws/what the bible says down to every last verse! People make mistakes and if they don't look back in history and see the mistakes in the past or learn from them they are bound to repeat themselves! That holds turn for any event! The Israelites being punished by slavery was an act of God, But as to why the African Americans were pushed into Slavery we may never know. It is a great question though, yes they were the "weaker" race at the time but they were stronger faster and harder workers then their masters so why were they treated the way they were?

The Mission 3

I also agree with past bloggers and their views on how slavery is wrong and is not the way that God intended it to be. Some people say that we are slaves of God; but are we really? We were created to serve God but “slaves” is not the word to describe humankind. Slaves were beaten, treated badly, and even killed by their masters. God does nothing of that sort to us. Some unfortunate things happen to us but there is a reason and God is the only one who knows the reason why it happened and what is in store for us.

True Grit 4

I like what you said Sawshank Redepmtion 3. We probably will never know why slavery was put upon African Americans, but its a part of history that cannot be ignored. And much like you said, if we don't learn from our history and our mistakes from the past we could keep repeating the things which harmed others in the future. I know that the Bible tells us to turn from sin and follow God, and to love the Lord with all our heart, strength and might, but does that necessarily mean we are or have to be "enslaved" by God's will to follow him or to live right? I don't think so. God expects us to follow his way in life, but he still expects us to think for ourselves at times while we are following him.

The Mission 2

In researching for a blog post, I came across an interesting passage; although I've heard it before, I really heard the words this time and it more or less shocked me. But thinking about it, it's true. Romans 6 is all about being dead to sin and becoming slaves to righteousness. "You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness." (Romans 6:18). In the notes in my study Bible, slave could be replaced with "a willing servant." It makes sense and Paul makes it clear why in his letter to the Romans that since Christ has set us free from sin and therefore makes us holy through Jesus, why wouldn't Christians want to be a "slave" to God? Willing to worship and thank him for the unbelievable gift of grace He gave us. God gives us enough reason to want to serve Him; just look at what He promises in verse 22: "But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life." (Romans 6:22). Eternal life, what more could someone want then to live with God in a place where "There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain." (Revelations 21:4). To me it's enough reason to thank God with a life dedicated to serving Him.

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  • Ancient Hebrew Poetry is a weblog of John F. Hobbins. Opinions expressed herein do not reflect those of his professional affiliations. Unless otherwise indicated, the contents of Ancient Hebrew Poetry, including all text, images, and other media, are original and licensed under a Creative Commons License.

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    Copyright © 2005 by John F Hobbins.