Understanding the Priestly Source
By Victor Hurowitz

Bible Review, June, 1996


Reading an introduction to biblical criticism, a beginning student might well think he or she is peering into a bowl of alphabet soup—or perhaps perusing a catalogue of foundations and corporations. Letters are all over the place, especially J, E, P, D, H and R. Occasionally there is even a K, L, N, Q or S. At times the letters stick together, yielding Rje or Pa or Pb or Pg or Ps or Pss. To explain these letters, a musically minded instructor might take a cue from Julie Andrews: "When we read we begin with A-B-C; but the critic starts with J-E-D, J-E-D, J-E-D-H-R and P!"

As readers of Bible Review know, these letters designate the various literary components making up the Five Books of Moses. The letters are the first initials of names given to the authors or literary circles that produced these components, such as J(ahwist), E(lohist), D(euteronomist), P(riestly source), H(oliness code) and R(edactor). The rarer letters are those used by individual scholars who think they have detected additional authors or literary strata within the major components.

The skeptical student might object: "I read the Pentateuch from 'In the beginning' to the death of Moses, and I didn't see these letters. I zipped right through all 187 chapters with no difficulty, so what makes you think the Pentateuch was written by several authors?"

But slow down for a moment, read carefully and pay more attention to the text! Start over again, and look for sense and consistency.

This time, reading more deliberately, the student again witnesses the majestic account of God's creating the world in six days, the beginning of Genesis. A pattern begins to emerge: A God named Elohim gives commands and brings things into being; and there is a plan of creation, with three days of preparing and then three days of developing. Every day ends formulaically: "And there was evening; and there was morning"—the first day, the second day … By the seventh day, all created things, including a man and a woman, are in their rightful places, merrily reproducing, existing in accordance with the great divine plan and enjoying the blessing of God who is taking Saturday off.

Thus the student sails smoothly through the first chapter of Genesis and several verses of the second.* But then comes the sea change. All of a sudden it is as if everything created no longer exists. The plants, already grown on the third day, are not in the earth, and there are no animals or human beings. Even God is no longer called Elohim but receives a new title, YHWH Elohim, usually rendered "the Lord, God."** On a literary level, the repetitions and parallelisms that so marked the first chapter and the beginning of the second give way to a freer narrative style, richer in vocabulary and unencumbered by repeated refrains. The perfectly created world no longer exists and creation starts all over again. Did the narrator suffer amnesia?

Our doubting student might suggest that this is a flashback, that the narrator is filling in details about creation that were not made explicit the first time. But that does not account for the strange disruptions in the narrative: Not only are there duplications and a change of style, but there also seem to be contradictions between the first story and what follows. In chapter one, animals are created before mankind. In chapter two, animals are created as a kind of afterthought, to give the man company and assistance. Woman, who was created along with man in the first chapter, is now formed separately. God also seems to have changed the way of creating: Living things no longer come into being by His command but are fashioned from the ground. In other words, the second telling of creation is not just a fleshed-out repetition of the first but conceives of creation in a different way.

As the student continues to read through the Pentateuch, similar anomalies constantly crop up. Adam has two lines of descendants with like-sounding names appearing in both lines (Genesis 4:17-27 and Genesis 5). The Flood comes down in rain and lasts 40 days, but water is also said to come up from the abyss and from the portals of the heavens and to last for 150 days. Noah is told twice to enter the ark (and not because he went back to kiss the wife and kids, for they are in there with him!) (Genesis 5:7 and Genesis 5:18). At one point, seven pairs of pure and one pair of impure animals are brought into the ark (Genesis 7:2); at another, individual pairs of all animals are boarded (Genesis 7:8). Meanwhile, God is having an identity crisis, sometimes being Elohim and at other times YHWH.

Many of the kinds of contradictions, inconsistencies, duplications and changes of style and language that we find in the first two chapters of Genesis appear over and over again, to the end of Deuteronomy: Abraham makes two covenants with God (Genesis 15 and Genesis 17), Jacob leaves home twice and for different reasons (Genesis 27:43-45 and Genesis 27:46-28:9), God reveals His name to Moses twice (Exodus 3:13-16 and Exodus 6:2-3), and there are two stories about Moses and Aaron drawing water from a rock (Exodus 17:1-7 and Numbers 20: 1-6). Laws given in Exodus are revised or contradicted by laws in Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. The Tent of Meeting is at times a portable temple within the camp in which God resides (Exodus 25-31, 36-40), and at other times it is a tent outside the camp where Moses retires when he wants a revelation (Exodus 33:6-11). The Ark of the Covenant in one place is an acacia-wood box plated with gold (Exodus 25:10-22), and at others it is simply an unadorned wooden box (Deuteronomy 10:1-5). The camp is led here by Hobab (Numbers 10:29-39), there by a cloud and pillar of fire (Numbers 10:11-28). The Ark goes before the camp at a distance of three days in one instance (Numbers 10:32-35), but is carried in the midst of the camp in another (Numbers 2:17, 10:11-28). The list goes on and on and on.

Biblical scholars have labored long and hard to make sense of this apparent confusion. Traditional authorities, believing that the Five Books of Moses were divinely authored and revealed, must work with the axiom that the Torah is unified and speaks in a single voice: If two passages seem contradictory, each refers to something different (this is especially true in the case of contradictory laws). Dissonant passages are harmonized by a long succession of unique, ad hoc solutions.

Since the end of the 18th century, however, most scholars have taken a different approach. Hoping to explain all the problems within the framework of a single, overarching theory, they have abandoned the axiom of single authorship and have tried to make sense of the Pentateuch by postulating multiple authors. An obvious contradiction or a blatant change of style is taken as a sign that the text was authored by two different people or schools. This postulate made it possible to identify and isolate the various materials that were eventually incorporated into the extant form of the Five Books of Moses.(1)

The next task facing the critics was to find order among the pieces. Turning from analysis to synthesis, critics joined small segments into larger bodies of text by looking for common styles, shared ideas and narrative consistency. More than a century ago, four distinct literary corpora, given the titles J, E, D and P, were combined together as the sources of the Pentateuch.* The majority of scholars assumed that each of these corpora, or literary strands, had originally been a complete work containing both narrative and legal sections. Scholars posited that the four strands were composed and combined in different stages, as the Pentateuch gradually took form. At each stage, the person putting together the pieces (the "redactor" [R] or editor) made necessary revisions and added his own thoughts.

An additional task was to put the sources into chronological order, date them and find their historical background. This work is crucial if the sequence of sources is to be used for tracing the history of religion that they reflect.

One of the four sources isolated by this process has been designated P, and this is the one on which I want to focus. The letter "P" stands for Priestly source. As its name implies, this source discusses many matters relevant to priests in their vocation as servants of God who conduct the service in the Temple, manage the Temple and protect divine property from misappropriation, desecration and defilement. Unlike modern priests and rabbis, who minister to the people, the priests of the Bible were primarily concerned with keeping the divine house in order. Contacts with the people were limited to situations in which the people had dealings with God through the Temple.(2) The central matters of concern to P are not absent in the other sources, but those concerns are less pressing in J, E and D.

The Priestly source is essentially a narrative, recording the primal history of the world and the saga of the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob—from the Exodus through the Sinai sojourn, the division and settlement of the land, and the dedication of the First Temple in Jerusalem. Thus, the Priestly source does not end with the Pentateuch; it continues through the subsequent books of Joshua, Judges, Samuel and Kings. The narrative, however, does not flow evenly and smoothly. The passage of time, for instance, is expressed through the use of chronological statements and genealogies, rather than by the narrative action. Only events bearing on the cult or religious practices are reported at length. That is what concerns P: The story of creation is actually an explanation of the Sabbath (Genesis 1:1-2:4a); Abraham's life is dominated by the covenant demanding circumcision; and the story about purchasing the Cave of Machpelah (Genesis 23) is probably introduced as a way of indicating the preferred form of burial.

In P, laws are not concentrated in a single corpus, as they are in the other sources, but are given at various junctures during the period of the wandering in Sinai and are connected with historical events. The most important event, as indicated by length of discussion, is the construction of the Tabernacle. This was the major achievement of the year spent at Mount Sinai. Literary connections between the creation account in Genesis 1 and the account of erecting the Tabernacle show that this event was actually conceived of as the culmination of creation.(3) Most of the sacrificial regulations and the laws of purity are embedded in, or associated with, this account of the building of the Tabernacle (Leviticus 1-7, 11-15).

A 54-verse-long report about a war with the Midianites illustrates P's idiosyncracies (Numbers 31). The war itself is barely described: not a word about strategy, tactics or fighting. But there is an extremely detailed accounting of the booty taken and its distribution, emphasizing especially the measures taken to assure that it was ritually pure and distributed equitably between people and sanctuary. In other cases, we find that the wanderings through the desert are dwarfed by detailed descriptions of the order of march of the camp and of the censuses (Numbers 1-6, 26). Where lists can serve, they do. It's as if a bookkeeper was assigned to be a war correspondent.

This does not mean that P is without literary ability. The simple elegance and majesty of the first chapter of Genesis and many other stories clearly demonstrate P's aesthetic sense. P's style borders at times on poetry, using balanced verse structures and carefully honed larger units. Especially prominent in P is the use of ornate repetitions and literary patterns, a feature shared with certain types of Mesopotamian literature. The literary devices used by P not only characterize the narrative but permeate the laws, too.(4)

The Priestly source has many unique ideas, making it different from the other sources of the Pentateuch. Central and foremost in the mind of P is the cult. Any discussion of P must examine his ideas on this subject.(5) All worship of God is done in the Tabernacle, which is conceived of as a portable divine residence or temple. Although sacrifices of various types are incumbent on the community, community leaders and individuals, only the descendants of Aaron, Moses' older brother, are recognized as priests. The Tabernacle is managed by the tribe of Levi, but approaching the altar and performing sacrifices are permitted only to priests descended from Aaron. Regular worship consists of burnt sacrifices offered twice daily on the Tabernacle altar, as well as a number of acts performed within the Tabernacle. These include offering incense on a golden altar every morning and evening, lighting seven lamps on a lampstand every evening, and placing 12 loaves of bread on a table every Sabbath. On Sabbaths, New Moons and various holidays, the ritual is augmented by additional sacrifices and libations on the altar. Cult members bring offerings either in payment of vows or for certain sins, or simply as an expression of piety. These offerings are sacrificed by the priests with the assistance of the Levites. There is no prescribed singing or music, and the only words spoken are confessions that accompany sin offerings. P's cult has been called the cult of silence.(6)

The Tabernacle in which this cult is practiced consists of a wooden frame overlaid with several layers of colorfully decorated cloths and skins.(7) It has two rooms and is surrounded by a courtyard. In the inner room are the Ark and its cherubim, representing YHWH's footstool and throne. In the outer room are the lampstand, the incense altar and the bread table. The rooms are separated by a curtain; a curtain also covers the outer entrance. In the courtyard stand the sacrificial altar and a basin for priestly ablutions. Making one's way from the courtyard entrance to the Ark in the Holy of Holies, the objects become more and more valuable, and the workmanship of the objects increases in sophistication. Attention is thus focused on the divine substance (kavod) present in the Holy of Holies, above the Ark and the cherubim.(8)

Sacrifices and ritual acts serve two purposes. The acts performed inside the Tabernacle symbolically represent God's daily life within the Tabernacle, as if it were his home. The high priest is God's valet, performing daily chores for his divine master. Sacrifices brought by individuals represent personal homage paid to the divine sovereign resident in the Tabernacle. Sin offerings are aimed at achieving divine forgiveness—and they provide blood as a detergent for cleansing the Tabernacle of impurity and the effect of sin. Taken together, the cultic system has the purpose of assuring a permanent divine presence within the nation of Israel. For P, this is the fulfillment of God's purpose in creating the world.

Few biblical scholars deny the existence of P as a distinct literary corpus.(9) But even those who accept it have ancillary questions. Two of the most important are: Is P itself a unified work? And when was it written?

The answer to the first question appears to be no. Since the end of the 19th century, it has been recognized that P is not a completely unified work. There seem to have been several authors at work, some writing an original version, and others supplementing or altering it in various ways. The sigla Ps and Pss mentioned above represent what earlier scholars took to be expansions on the original source, which they called Pg (the "g" for Grundschrift, or "basic writing"). The noted German biblical scholar Gerhard von Rad thought that P was actually the combination of two parallel strands, which he designated Pa and Pb.(10)

A unique corpus within the Priestly work, recognized by most scholars, is H, the so-called Holiness code. H was usually thought of as a document composed before P and subsequently taken up by the P source. A recent theory, proposed and developed by Israeli scholar Israel Knohl and adapted by Jacob Milgrom in his prestigious commentary on Leviticus, claims that H is much more extensive than previously thought.(11) Wherever P is found, pieces of H can be detected as well. Not only this, but H is now said to have been authored after P as part of a revision of P. According to this view, P proper is intensely focused on the cult—to the near exclusion of everything else; H, however, deals with matters more pertinent to the people as a whole.

Another central question is the date of composition of both P and H. Where do P and H stand in the growth of the Pentateuch and in the development of Israelite religion? Do they represent the initial Mosaic charter for religious practice in Israel, or do they reflect a later historical setting?

No modern scholar would venture a Mosaic date for the Priestly literature. This material contains certain historical allusions that cannot predate the divided monarchy (the united monarchy, after King Solomon's death in about 920 B.C.E., broke into two kingdoms—Israel in the north and Judah in the south). In P, for instance, Aaron is married to the sister of a prince of Judah, indicating some relationship between the priestly family and the royal family or house of David (Exodus 6:23): Thus the story must postdate the beginning of the Davidic monarchy and cannot reflect the desert period. In a list of men assigned to divide up the land, the representatives of the tribes of Judah, Simeon and Benjamin are not called nesi'im "chieftains," while the heads of the other tribes do bear this title. This dichotomy may reflect the divided monarchy in which Judah, Simeon and Benjamin constituted the southern kingdom. Also, the Tabernacle, which is at the center of the Priestly source, is certainly a fictitious construction: It is a kind of pre-monarchic Tent of Meeting overlaid by the image of the Jerusalem Temple; thus the P source must have come after Solomon built the Temple.(12) Moreover, if we compare the minor cultic vessels of the Jerusalem Temple (1 Kings 7:48-50) to those of the Tabernacle, we find that the cult attributed to the Tabernacle is actually a more-developed and less-anthropomorphic one than that ascribed to the Temple.(13) P, that is, took contemporaneous practices and projected them back onto the Tabernacle cult.

All these factors set P no earlier than the divided monarchy. The majority of scholars over the past hundred years, in fact, have dated P centuries later. They consider it a product of the Persian period, around the time of the Jews' return from the Babylonian Exile and the rebuilding of the Second Temple (sixth to fifth century B.C.E.). Rather than regarding P as picturing the beginning of the Israelite cult, they see it as describing the latest stages of its development in the biblical period.

In placing P in the post-exilic age, these scholars are following the lead of Julius Wellhausen, a giant whose shadow still looms large over modern biblical research.(14) In general, Wellhausen considered P's highly developed ritualism as a sign of religious petrification and decline, forcing him to place it at the end of the biblical period.(15) "Wellhausen determined the date of P by comparing it with another source of the Pentateuch, D, the Deuteronomic source responsible for most of the Book of Deuteronomy. Wellhausen accepted the assumption still held today that the core of the Book of Deuteronomy was formulated around the time of King Josiah of Judah (late seventh century B.C.E.). Comparing the laws of Deuteronomy with those of P, he found that the latter represented a more-developed stage of the cult. Whereas D explicitly demands that all sacrifices be made only at a central sanctuary (see Deuteronomy 12:4-28), P simply assumes that this requirement will be observed.(16) Although D permits any Levite to serve as priest on condition that he work in the central sanctuary (Deuteronomy 18:6-8), P limits this prerogative to the Aaronide clan (note especially Numbers 17:1-5). D's holiday calendar reflects agricultural realities in which climatic conditions determine when the festivals are to be celebrated (Deuteronomy 16), whereas P gives immovable dates (Leviticus 23 and Numbers 28-29).(17) The Sabbath, so crucial to P, supposedly became important only in the exilic period.** P, according to Wellhausen, is not a product of Israelite religion but marks the emergence of Judaism.

Wellhausen's reconstruction of the history of cult in Israel is widely accepted but has not escaped challenge or calls for revision. Several Israeli and Jewish scholars follow the lead of the late Yehezkiel Kaufmann, who argued that the Priestly source and the Deuteronomic source are both products of the First Temple period; the differences between them are not the result of development over time, but rather are due to origins in different, contemporaneous circles with varying concerns.(18) Menahem Haran, one of the world's most prominent scholars of ancient Israelite cult, has tried to link P with a religious reform in the time of Hezekiah (late eighth century B.C.E.).(19) Although his claim has not gone unchallenged, Haran correctly points out that certain cultic phenomena prescribed by P, such as the Ark and anointing oil, are not present in the Second Temple period, and even Ezekiel does not require them in the Temple he prescribes for the future.(20) Haran separates the composition of P in the time of Hezekiah from its promulgation in the time of Ezra. He suggests that it existed for many years, sequestered in the circles of the Jerusalem priests who wrote it, until it was eventually publicized. Moshe Weinfeld, a renowned authority on the book of Deuteronomy, has pointed out crucial theological differences between P and D.(21) Theologically, P's claim that YHWH's kavod (presence) dwells in the Temple seems more primitive than D's proposition that only the name of YHWH is associated with the Temple. In addition, P's kavod is probably quite anthropomorphic, as we learn from its description in the book of the prophet-priest Ezekiel son of Buzi.(22)

Much has been made of language as a factor in determining the date of P. Since languages grow and change in ways that can be tracked, it should be possible to date a document by identifying where it stands within the development of the language in which it is written. Avi Hurvitz has argued on numerous occasions that the language of P is typical of pre-exilic Hebrew and predates the language of Ezekiel, who was active at the end of the First Temple period and during the early part of the Exile.(23) Jacob Milgrom follows him in this claim.(24) On the other hand, Baruch Levine claims that P includes words that seem to belong to a post-exilic linguistic milieu, being attested in the Aramaic Elephantine papyri from fifth-century B.C.E. Egypt.(25)

Numerous scholars have pointed to ancient, archaic elements in P's laws. The scapegoat ceremony to be performed on the day of atonement, the rite for purifying a person afflicted with scaly skin disease, and the rite of the red heifer (to remove impurity contracted through contact with a corpse) are considered especially primitive and could hardly have developed in the post-exilic age.

Other elements may also indicate an early or a late date. Some scholars have pointed to Egyptian parallels to the architecture of the Tabernacle, indicating an early date.(26) On the other hand, the fashion of the priestly vestments and the technology employed in their manufacture may point to later dates (see especially Exodus 39:3). If the half-shekel poll tax (see Exodus 30:11-16) refers to a piece of silver of a specific weight, that would point to a pre-exilic date. If, however, it refers to a coin, it would indicate a date in the Persian period, when coins came into general usage in the ancient Near East.

The dating of P has thus turned out to be quite complex, with various factors pointing in different directions. Even today, more than a century after Wellhausen, we have no definitive answer. It is likely that the corpus of Priestly literature (P and H) in its extant form is the product of a long development and that elements from different time periods have been incorporated into it. The Aramaicisms and certifiably late language may indicate a post-exilic date for the final form of P, but this is not conclusive. Individual elements aside, the language of P on the whole seems to be pre-exilic. The archaic cult-features and the presence in the Tabernacle of things not found in the Second Temple or in Ezekiel's visionary temple are indicative of a pre-exilic background.

My own assessment of the evidence is that P was given its final form in the Persian period—when it was prepared for publication as part of the Pentateuch—but developed out of pre-existent literary sources of a considerably older date. Even if P reached its final form in the post-exilic period, its content, language and style are firmly planted in the literature and customs of the First Temple period. The Priestly literature is a dynamic, growing organism, coming into being in stages. Some features change, but its basic form is preserved. P is thus a mirror not of one particular period in the history of Israel's cult, but of the gradual metamorphosis of the cult throughout her history.


1 Some modern Orthodox Jewish authorities are trying belatedly to come to grips with the conclusions of "source criticism." They admit to apparent inconsistencies and stylistic differences, but they attribute them to different aspects of God. See, for example, Mordechai Breuer, "Studying the Plain Meaning of the Bible—Dangers and Opportunities" (in Hebrew), in The Bible and Us, ed. Uriel Simon (Tel Aviv: Devir, 1979), pp. 153-171. (Back)

2 See Menahem Haran, "Priesthood, Temple, Divine Service: Some Observations on Institutions and Practices of Worship," Hebrew Annual Review 7 (1983), pp. 121-135. (Back)

3 For the connections between these two pericopes, see Victor Hurowitz, I Have Built You an Exalted House: Temple Building in the Bible in Light of Mesopotamian and Northwest Semitic Writings, JSOT Supplement Monograph Series 5 (Sheffield, UK: Sheffield Academic Press, 1992), pp. 235-242. (Back)

4 See Meir Paran, Forms of the Priestly Style in the Pentateuch: Patterns, Linguistic Usages, Syntactic Structures (Jerusalem: Magnes, 1989; in Hebrew), and my review of this book in Hebrew Studies 32 (1991), pp. 156-162. (Back)

5 See Haran, Temples and Temple Service in Ancient Israel: An Inquiry into the Character of Cult Phenomena and the Historical Setting of the Priestly School (Oxford: Clarendon, 1978). (Back)

6 See Yehezkiel Kaufmann, The Religion of Israel from Its Beginnings to the Babylonian Exile, translated and abridged by Moshe Greenberg (Chicago: Univ. of Chicago, 1960), pp. 303-304. (Back)

7 The Tabernacle is conveniently described and sketched in most Bible dictionaries and encyclopedias. See also Victor Hurowitz, "The Form and Fate of the Priestly Tabernacle: Reflections on a Recent Proposal," Jewish Quarterly Review (forthcoming). (Back)

8 The kavod, translated here as "substance" and by Moshe Greenberg as "majesty," is a luminous manifestation by which God descends to earth and is made visible. The kavod resides in the Holy of Holies of the Tabernacle and the Jerusalem Temple. It is the precursor of the shekhinah, or Divine Presence, of later Jewish sources, but is not entirely identical in conception. On this phenomenon and its ancient Near Eastern parallels see Moshe Weinfeld, Deuteronomy and the Deuteronomic School (Oxford: Clarendon, 1972), pp. 201-205. (Back)

9 Several prominent Israeli scholars, such as Umberto Cassuto, Moshe Hirsch Segal and Ephraim Loewenstamm, have rejected source criticism in principle and therefore do not recognize a Priestly source. Shemaryahu Talmon, who denied the existence of multiple sources when I studied with him two decades ago, has shown in some recent writings that he now accepts this approach. (Back)

10 See Gerhard von Rad, Die Priesterschrift im Hexateuch, Beitrage zur Wissenschaft vom Alten und Neuen Testament 4 (Stuttgart and Berlin: Verlag W. Kohlhammer, 1934). For a "maximalist" division of P into smaller sources see Karl Elliger, Leviticus, Handbuch zum Alten Testament 4 (Tübingen: J.C.B. Mohr [Paul Siebeck], 1966); Elliger distinguishes two levels in the Priestly Grundschrift, four levels in the Holiness Code and two levels in the sacrificial laws. (Back)

11 See Israel Knohl, The Sanctuary of Silence: A Study of the Priestly Strata in the Pentateuch (Jerusalem: Magnes, 1992; in Hebrew); Jacob Milgrom, Beviticus 1-16: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary, The Anchor Bible (New York: Doubleday, 1991); and my review-article, "Ancient Israelite Cult in History, Tradition, and Interpretation," AJS Review 19 (1994), pp. 213-236. (Back)

12 See Haran, Temples and Temple Service, pp. 189-204. (Back)

13 See Hurowitz, "Solomon's Golden Vessels (I Kings 7:48-50) and the Cult of the First Temple," in Pomegranates and Golden Bells: Studies in Biblical, Jewish, and Near Eastern Ritual, Law and Literature in Honor of Jacob Milgrom, ed. by David P. Wright, David N. Freedman and Avi Hurvitz (Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 1995), pp. 151-164. (Back)

14 See Julius Wellhausen, Prolegomena to the History of Ancient Israel (New York: Meridian Books, 1957). (Back)

15 For a recent critique of Wellhausen, see Moshe Weinfeld, "Social and Cultic Institutions in the Priestly Source Against Their Ancient Near Eastern Background," in Proceedings of the Eighth World Congress of Jewish Studies: Panel Sessions, Bible Studies and Hebrew Language (Jerusalem: World Union of Jewish Studies, 1983), pp. 95-129. (Back)

16 But compare Leviticus 17, which seems to indicate that sacrifice must be limited to the central sanctuary. However, this passage is to be attributed to H rather than P. See Milgrom, Leviticus 1-16, pp. 28-29, for a discussion of this problem. (Back)

17 For the relationship between these two cultic calendars, see Israel Knohl, "The Priestly Torah Versus the Holiness School: Sabbath and the Festivals," Hebrew Union College Annual 58 (1987), pp. 65-117. (Back)

18 Kaufmann, History of the Religion of Israel, pp. 153-211. (Back)

19 Haran, Temples and Temple Service, especially pp. 132-148. (Back)

20 See Haran, Temples and Temple Service, especially pp. 276-288. (Back)

21 Weinfeld, Deuteronomy 1:11: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary, The Anchor Bible 5 (New York: Doubleday, 1991), pp. 25-37; "God the Creator in Genesis 1 and Deutero-Isaiah," Tarbiz 37 (1967-1968; in Hebrew), pp. 105-132; Deuteronomy and the Deuteronomic School, pp. 191-243; and "Deuteronomy's Theological Revolution," BR, February 1996. (Back)

22 See Weinfeld, "Social and Cultic Institutions in the Priestly Source Against Their Ancient Near Eastern Background." Weinfeld also proposes that Second Isaiah, a book of the Persian period, polemicizes against certain features of the Priestly source, meaning that P must have come earlier. He has also pointed to many cultic practices from other ancient Near Eastern cultures that resemble elements of P. (Back)

23 See Avi Hurvitz, A Linguistic Study of the Relationship Between the Priestly Source and the Book of Ezekiel: A New Approach to an Old Problem, Cahiers de la Revue Biblique 20 (Paris: J. Gabalda, 1982); and "The Language of the Priestly Source and Its Historical Setting—The Case for an Early Date," in Proceedings of the Eighth World Congress of Jewish Studies: Panel Sessions, Bible Studies and Hebrew Language, pp. 83-94. (Back)

24 The late Meir Paran tried to show that certain words and phrases used in Chronicles, P and pre-exilic literature appear in P with their pre-exilic meaning rather than with the meaning found in Chronicles; see Paran, Forms of the Priestly Style in the Pentateuch, pp. 273-298. (Back)

25 Baruch Levine proposes that these terms entered Hebrew through Aramaic. See Levine, "Research in the Priestly Source: The Linguistic Factor," Eretz- Israel 16 (Jerusalem: Israel Exploration Society, 1982; in Hebrew), pp. 124-131; and "Late Language in the Priestly Source: Some Literary and Historical Observations," in Proceedings of the Eighth World Congress of Jewish Studies: Panel Sessions, Bible Studies and Hebrew Language, pp. 69-82.

Nonetheless, it is demonstrable that Aramaic elements entered Hebrew even before the Exile. Aramaic was the lingua franca of the Near East not only under the Achaedmenid Persians but at the time of the Assyrian Empire as well. (Second Kings 18:26, for instance, testifies to the use of Aramaic by court officials when conducting international affairs.) The word kones (gatherer), generally considered an Aramaicism and a litmus test for dating the use of Aramaic, has been discovered in an inscription found in Jerusalem and dating to the eve of the Babylonian destruction (this fragmentary text will be published by Joseph Naveh in a forthcoming volume of Qedem; see, for now, Daniel Weintraub, Grammatical Aspects of Hebrew Inscriptions from the First Temple Period [Jerusalem: Hebrew University, 1994; M.A. thesis, p. 13]). Even though kones does not appear in P, the existence of pre-exilic Aramaicisms in Hebrew raises the likelihood that other Aramaicisms too may be pre-exilic (see Victor Hurowitz, "Three Biblical Expressions for Being Merciful in Light of Akkadian and Aramaic," in Texts, Temples, and Traditions: A Tribute to Menahem Haran, ed. Michael Fox et al. (Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 1996), pp. 1-10. (Back)

26 See Kenneth A. Kitchen, "The Tabernacle—A Bronze Age Artifact," Eretz-Israel 24 (Jerusalem: Israel Exploration Society, 1993), pp. 119*-129*. (Back)