Babylon

Discussion about the Hebrew Bible, Septuagint, pseudepigrapha, Philo, Josephus, Talmud, Dead Sea Scrolls, archaeology, etc.
John2
Posts: 3075
Joined: Fri May 16, 2014 4:42 pm

Re: Babylon

Post by John2 » Wed May 02, 2018 5:30 pm

Can you give some examples of this acceptance? The Mishnah (Menahot 13.10) prohibits any priest from Leontopolis to serve in the temple in Jerusalem and rejects the validity of any sacrifice or Nazirite vow made in Leontopolis; it grants that a vow to sacrifice specifically in that temple is fulfilled by a sacrifice there, but denies the validity of the result. Josephus contends that Onias built the Leontopolis temple precisely to compete with the Jerusalem temple for adherents.
Meg. 10a:
Rabbi Yitzḥak said: I heard that one sacrifices offerings in the temple of Onias in Egypt at the present time. The Gemara cites the basis for the statement of Rabbi Yitzḥak. He maintains that the temple of Onias is not a house of idol worship but rather a temple devoted to the service of God, and he maintains that the initial consecration sanctified Jerusalem for its time and did not sanctify Jerusalem forever. Therefore, after the destruction of the Temple, the sanctity of Jerusalem lapsed and the sacrifice of offerings elsewhere was no longer prohibited. For these reasons it was permitted to sacrifice offerings in the temple of Onias after the Temple was destroyed.

The Gemara cites the source of this halakha. It is as it is written: “For you are not as yet come to the rest and to the inheritance” (Deuteronomy 12:9), which is interpreted: “Rest,” this is Shiloh; “inheritance,” this is Jerusalem. The verse juxtaposes and likens inheritance to rest: Just as in the place of rest, Shiloh, after its destruction there is permission to sacrifice offerings on improvised altars, so too in the place of inheritance, Jerusalem, after its destruction there is permission to sacrifice offerings on improvised altars.

The Gemara reports that the other Sages said to Rabbi Yitzḥak: Did you say this halakha with regard to the temple of Onias? He said to them: No, I did not say that. Rava said, reinforcing his assertion with an oath: By God! Rabbi Yitzḥak did in fact say this, and I myself learned it from him, but he later retracted this ruling.

https://www.sefaria.org/Megillah.10a.3?lang=bi
The Jewish Encyclopedia says it is also discussed in Men. 109a-b but I can't find it in translation online.
In the Talmud the origin of the temple of Onias is narrated with legendary additions, there being two versions of the account (Men. 109b). It must be noted that here also Onias is mentioned as the son of Simon, and that Isaiah's prophecy is referred to. In regard to the Law the temple of Onias (handed down in the name of Saadia Gaon) was looked upon as neither legitimate nor illegitimate, but as standing midway between the worship of Yhwh and idolatry (Men. 109a; Tosef., Men. xiii. 12-14); the possibility of the priests of Onias being admitted to officiate at Jerusalem was explicitly stated, while one passage even expresses the view that sacrificial worship was permissible in the temple of Onias (Meg. 10a).

http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/artic ... eontopolis
And this webpage says:
As we have learned, there is a disagreement about how to view the Temple of Onias, where the priests who served were all true priests – descendants of Aharon ha-kohen. It appears that the accepted position is that this was not a house of pagan worship; the most serious problem with it was the fact that a temple where sacrifices were brought that existed at the same time as an operating Temple in Jerusalem is forbidden, and participating in the sacrificial service there was punishable by karet (a serious heavenly punishment). Nonetheless, the Mishnah rules that kohanim who served there were not welcome to serve in the Temple in Jerusalem.

https://www.ou.org/life/torah/masechet_ ... _107a110a/
And the Jewish Virtual Library says:
The Talmud takes a somewhat relaxed view of this temple. It claims that it was not an "idolatrous shrine" because Onias had based himself on Isaiah 19:18, which says that, "One day there will be an altar to the Lord in the midst of the land of Egypt," and because he was a legitimate Zadokite priest, a descendant of the high priest Simon the Just (Men. 109b). The Mishnah states that some vows made in the Temple of Jerusalem could be redeemed in the Temple of Onias and, while a priest who served at Onias was precluded from serving in Jerusalem, he could nevertheless eat the terumah (consecrated food) there together with his priestly brethren (Men. 13:10).

http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/onias-temple-of
May the four winds blow you home again.

John2
Posts: 3075
Joined: Fri May 16, 2014 4:42 pm

Re: Babylon

Post by John2 » Wed May 02, 2018 5:37 pm

M. Men. 13:10:
“I take upon myself an olah” - he must offer it in the Temple. And if he offered it in the Temple of Onias (A temple made by Onias in the Egyptian city of Heliopolis, contemporary with the Second Temple in Jerusalem), he has not fulfilled his obligation. “I take upon myself to offer an olah but I will offer it in the Temple of Onias” - he must offer it in the Temple, yet if he offered it in the Temple of Onias he has fulfilled his obligation. Rabbi Shimon says: this is not an olah. “I will be a Nazirite” - he must shave in the Temple. And if he shaved in the Temple of Onias he has not fulfilled his obligation. " that I will shave in the Temple of Onias” - he must shave in the Temple, but if he shaved in the Temple of Onias he has fulfilled his obligation. Rabbi Shimon says: this one is not a Nazirite. The priests who served in the Temple of Onias may not serve in the Temple in Jerusalem; and needless to say [this is so of priests who served] something else [a euphemism for idolatry]; for it is said, “The priests of the shrines, however, did not ascend the altar of the Lord in Jerusalem. But they did eat unleavened bread along with their kinsmen” (II Kings 23:9). Thus they are like those that had a blemish: they are entitled to share and eat [of the holy things] but they are not permitted to offer sacrifices.

https://www.sefaria.org/Mishnah_Menachot.13.11?lang=bi


BTW, pardon the italics; it looks like it's due to an "I"/bracket issue near "that I will shave in the Temple of Onias."
May the four winds blow you home again.

User avatar
Ben C. Smith
Posts: 7125
Joined: Wed Apr 08, 2015 2:18 pm
Location: USA
Contact:

Re: Babylon

Post by Ben C. Smith » Wed May 02, 2018 5:54 pm

John2 wrote:
Wed May 02, 2018 5:37 pm
M. Men. 13:10....
This is the passage I referred to from the Mishnah. Offering in Leontopolis, if one promised to do so, fulfills a vow, but the offering itself is not valid.

You gave one passage with a positive ruling about the temple (the one from Megillah), but that same passage says that the ruling was later retracted. The rest of the passages seem to agree that neither the offerings nor the priests there were viewed as valid. The best that can be said is that the temple was not pagan. What is your overall impression of the evidence?
ΤΙ ΕΣΤΙΝ ΑΛΗΘΕΙΑ

User avatar
Ben C. Smith
Posts: 7125
Joined: Wed Apr 08, 2015 2:18 pm
Location: USA
Contact:

Re: Babylon

Post by Ben C. Smith » Wed May 02, 2018 6:10 pm

Another thing to consider is the overall trend in our sources. All of the above sources (Mishnah, Talmud, even Josephus) are pretty late compared to the Elephantine papyri themselves. The documents closest in time to the Elephantine papyri would be the books of the Hebrew Bible themselves, right? How do you read the evidence in the Hebrew scriptures? How are altars outside of the Jerusalem temple treated? (Did you read Joshua 22?)

I mean, obviously there is a period of time during which altars seem to be erected everywhere, but then what do you do with the strict Torah laws concerning where to sacrifice? It is a Hail Mary to hold that Ezra postdates the Elephantine collection (by what, a maximum of a decade or so?). Assuming, then, that both Josiah and Ezra predate the Elephantine letter, what kinds of tolerance for a rival temple do you find in the books of the Hebrew scriptures, or in any other books closer in time to the matter at hand?
ΤΙ ΕΣΤΙΝ ΑΛΗΘΕΙΑ

John2
Posts: 3075
Joined: Fri May 16, 2014 4:42 pm

Re: Babylon

Post by John2 » Wed May 02, 2018 6:15 pm

What is your overall impression of the evidence?
Well, in the big picture, what does the opinion of the rabbis matter? The Jews who built, attended and served in the Temple of Onias were presumably fine with it, and it looks like rabbis were at worst iffy about it. And in any event, their opinion would have presumably not existed (or at least not been in force) during the time of the Elephantine temple. So if later rabbis were to some extent "okay" with Onias' temple, I reckon that Jews who lived before the emergence of Rabbinic Judaism (and possibly even before the establishment of Deuteronomy) had even more leeway.
May the four winds blow you home again.

User avatar
Ben C. Smith
Posts: 7125
Joined: Wed Apr 08, 2015 2:18 pm
Location: USA
Contact:

Re: Babylon

Post by Ben C. Smith » Wed May 02, 2018 6:32 pm

John2 wrote:
Wed May 02, 2018 6:15 pm
What is your overall impression of the evidence?
Well, in the big picture, what does the opinion of the rabbis matter? The Jews who built, attended and served in the Temple of Onias were presumably fine with it, and it looks like rabbis were at worst iffy about it. And in any event, their opinion would have presumably not existed (or at least not been in force) during the time of the Elephantine temple. So if later rabbis were to some extent "okay" with Onias' temple, I reckon that Jews who lived before the emergence of Rabbinic Judaism (and possibly even before the establishment of Deuteronomy) had even more leeway.
See, based on the Deuteronomic material and the Torah, I would guess it would go in exactly the other direction: from intolerance to (eventual) begrudging tolerance.
ΤΙ ΕΣΤΙΝ ΑΛΗΘΕΙΑ

User avatar
Ben C. Smith
Posts: 7125
Joined: Wed Apr 08, 2015 2:18 pm
Location: USA
Contact:

Re: Babylon

Post by Ben C. Smith » Wed May 02, 2018 6:33 pm

But I am still sorting through it all, so....
ΤΙ ΕΣΤΙΝ ΑΛΗΘΕΙΑ

John2
Posts: 3075
Joined: Fri May 16, 2014 4:42 pm

Re: Babylon

Post by John2 » Wed May 02, 2018 7:10 pm

The documents closest in time to the Elephantine papyri would be the books of the Hebrew Bible themselves, right? How do you read the evidence in the Hebrew scriptures? How are altars outside of the Jerusalem temple treated? (Did you read Joshua 22?)
The last time I studied the OT regarding this matter I came away with the impression that sacrificing outside of Jerusalem (or one particular place) was fairly normal until the establishment of Deuteronomy (at least in Judah). I see Joshua 22 as being part of the Deuteronomistic writings, and so it of course promotes the idea of sacrificing in one place. And I see Deuteronomy as possibly being a product of the Northern Kingdom and that "the place God chooses to put his name" was in various places there, culminating with Shiloh, as von Rad, for example, suggests in Deuteronomy: A Commentary.

https://books.google.com/books?id=oLW7B ... oh&f=false

Cf. Jer. 7:12-15:
Go now to the place in Shiloh where I first made a dwelling for my Name, and see what I did to it because of the wickedness of my people Israel. While you were doing all these things, declares the Lord, I spoke to you again and again, but you did not listen; I called you, but you did not answer. Therefore, what I did to Shiloh I will now do to the house that bears my Name, the temple you trust in, the place I gave to you and your ancestors. I will thrust you from my presence, just as I did all your fellow Israelites, the people of Ephraim.’
Prior to the establishment of Deuteronomy in Judah (which was presumably first brought there by exiles from the Northern Kingdom, even if it didn't take hold in Judah until later) there were altars all over the place. And Lev. 17:1-9 says that sacrificial animals must be brought to a sanctuary so their blood can be put on an altar, otherwise it would be bloodshed and the person would be cut off; how would this be possible for Jews who lived outside Jerusalem (or outside one particular place)? This, in my view, is why Dt. 12:15-16 allows for the killing of sacrificial animals anywhere, unlike the older Lev. 17:1-9, for which this would not be an issue when there were multiple altars (in Judah).

Lev. 17:1-9:
The Lord said to Moses, “Speak to Aaron and his sons and to all the Israelites and say to them: ‘This is what the Lord has commanded: Any Israelite who sacrifices an ox, a lamb or a goat in the camp or outside of it instead of bringing it to the entrance to the tent of meeting to present it as an offering to the Lord in front of the tabernacle of the Lord—that person shall be considered guilty of bloodshed; they have shed blood and must be cut off from their people. This is so the Israelites will bring to the Lord the sacrifices they are now making in the open fields. They must bring them to the priest, that is, to the Lord, at the entrance to the tent of meeting and sacrifice them as fellowship offerings. The priest is to splash the blood against the altar of the Lord at the entrance to the tent of meeting and burn the fat as an aroma pleasing to the Lord. They must no longer offer any of their sacrifices to the goat idols to whom they prostitute themselves. This is to be a lasting ordinance for them and for the generations to come.’

“Say to them: ‘Any Israelite or any foreigner residing among them who offers a burnt offering or sacrifice and does not bring it to the entrance to the tent of meeting to sacrifice it to the Lord must be cut off from the people of Israel.
Dt. 12:15-16:
Nevertheless, you may slaughter your animals in any of your towns and eat as much of the meat as you want, as if it were gazelle or deer, according to the blessing the Lord your God gives you. Both the ceremonially unclean and the clean may eat it. But you must not eat the blood; pour it out on the ground like water.
May the four winds blow you home again.

User avatar
Ben C. Smith
Posts: 7125
Joined: Wed Apr 08, 2015 2:18 pm
Location: USA
Contact:

Re: Babylon

Post by Ben C. Smith » Wed May 02, 2018 7:27 pm

John2 wrote:
Wed May 02, 2018 7:10 pm
This, in my view, is why Dt. 12:15-16 allows for the killing of sacrificial animals anywhere, unlike the older Lev. 17:1-9, for which this would not be an issue when there were multiple altars (in Judah).
I think that Deuteronomy 12.15-16 is simply allowing the eating of meat. It is not a sacrifice. The older view was that every time one ate meat, it had to be a sacrifice. Deuteronomy is saying that one can eat meat without it being sacrificial, but all sacrifices must be offered at the place of the name.
ΤΙ ΕΣΤΙΝ ΑΛΗΘΕΙΑ

John2
Posts: 3075
Joined: Fri May 16, 2014 4:42 pm

Re: Babylon

Post by John2 » Wed May 02, 2018 7:56 pm

I think that Deuteronomy 12.15-16 is simply allowing the eating of meat. It is not a sacrifice. The older view was that every time one ate meat, it had to be a sacrifice. Deuteronomy is saying that one can eat meat without it being sacrificial, but all sacrifices must be offered at the place of the name.
I disagree. I think this is why Dt. 12:15 says "as if it were gazelle or deer," i.e., they are the animals that Lev. 17 says must be brought to a sanctuary so that their blood can be put on an altar. Animals that are hunted (like gazelle and deer) are not sacrificial animals, and Leviticus is consequently okay with pouring out their blood anywhere, but not so with cattle, sheep and goats.

Lev. 17:13:
Any Israelite or any foreigner residing among you who hunts any animal or bird that may be eaten must drain out the blood and cover it with earth ...


Lev. 17:3-4:
Any Israelite who sacrifices an ox, a lamb or a goat in the camp or outside of it instead of bringing it to the entrance to the tent of meeting to present it as an offering to the Lord in front of the tabernacle of the Lord—that person shall be considered guilty of bloodshed; they have shed blood and must be cut off from their people.
The word Lev. 17:3 uses for "sacrifice" in the translation above is yishchat, from shachat, which means to slaughter, which is used for non-sacrificial slaughter as well.

http://biblehub.com/hebrew/7819.htm

Dt. 12 makes the pouring out of blood from cattle, sheep and goats "as if it were gazelle or deer," unlike Lev. 17.
May the four winds blow you home again.

Post Reply