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The Purpose of Leviticus 24 within its Literary Context

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image of Vetus Testamentum

This paper argues that the purpose of Lev 24, situated as it is between the calendrical concerns of Lev 23 and 25, is discernible when the symbolism of its prescriptions (vv. 1-9) for lighting the tabernacle "lamp" (měnôrāh) and the provision of 12 loaves is considered. First, the "light" (mā'ôr) of the měnôrāh represents the "lights" (mě'ōrōt) of Gen 1:14-16 which govern the "occasions" (miqrā'ê) prescribed in these framing chapters. Second, the 12 loaves positioned under this "light" represent the ideal of a holy Israel, paused in worship of YHWH on these "occasions". It is in the ensuing narrative (vv. 10-23) that the ideal symbolised in vv. 1-9 is extended to the life of Israel. The blasphemy of the "sojourner" (gēr) provides a foil for the legislator to present the "rules of talion" which reveal the extent to which this ideal of holiness should be reflected among the Israelites: it is required even of the "sojourner".

Affiliations: 1: Queensland Theological College, St. Lucia, Australia


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