24 July 2018

The Holiness Code of Leviticus

For those who might not understand this, it comes from: c. 486 BCE - Darius I adopted the Holiness Code of Leviticus for Persian Jews of the Achaemenid Empire, enacting the first state sanctioned death penalty for male same-sex intercourse. Taken from Leviticus 
ch17–26, which is part of the Torah.

Leviticus 17: Leviticus 17. 1: The LORD said to Moses,; 2: "Speak to Aaron and his sons and to all the Israelites and say to them: `This is what the LORD has commanded: . 

The Holiness Code of Leviticus

The Holiness Code is a term used in biblical criticism to refer to Leviticus chapters 17–26, and is so called due to its highly repeated use of the word Holy.[1] Critical biblical scholars have regarded it as a distinct unit and have noted that the style is noticeably different from the main body of Leviticus.[2] Unlike the remainder of Leviticus, the many laws of the Holiness Code are expressed very closely packed together, and very briefly.

According to most versions of the documentary hypothesis, the Holiness Code represents an earlier text that was edited and incorporated into the Priestly source and the Torah as a whole, although some scholars, such as Israel Knohl, believe the Holiness Code to be a later addition to the Priestly source. This source is often abbreviated as "H".[3] A generally accepted date is sometime in the seventh century BC, when it presumably originated among the priests in the Temple in Jerusalem.[3]

The Holiness Code also uses a noticeably different choice of vocabulary, repeating phrases such as I, The LORD, am holy, I am the LORD, and I the LORD, which sanctify..., an unusually large number of times. Additionally, Leviticus 17 begins with This is the thing which the LORD hath commanded, saying.., and Leviticus 26 strongly resembles the conclusion of a law code, despite the presence of further laws afterward, such as at Leviticus 27, giving the Holiness Code the appearance of a single distinct unit.

In her Open Yale Course on the Hebrew Bible, Lecture 9, "The Priestly Legacy: Cult and Sacrifice, Purity and Holiness in Leviticus and Numbers", Professor Christine Hayes discusses a difference between the Holiness Code and the rest of Leviticus: in the Holiness Code, Israel itself is regarded as holy, not just the priestly class:

This theme, and the exhortation, “you shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy,” they find their fullest expression in the block of text; Leviticus 17 through 26 that’s referred to as the Holiness Code. There’s an important difference between Leviticus 1 through 16 and the Holiness Code. According to Leviticus 1 through 16, Israel’s priests are designated as holy: a holy class within Israel, singled out, dedicated to the service of God and demarcated by rules that apply only to them. Israelites may aspire to holiness, but it’s not assumed. However, in the Holiness Code, we have texts that come closer to the idea that Israel itself is holy by virtue of the fact that God has set Israel apart from the nations to himself, to belong to him, just as he set apart the seventh day to himself to belong with him.

Embedding in the priestly source Edit

The Holiness Code is considered part of the Priestly source by scholars holding to the documentary hypothesis. However, such scholars generally believe it to have been an originally separate legal code (referred to as "H") which the priestly source edited and chose to embed into their writing after. Some such editing is simply the addition of phrases such as And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, designed to put the code into the context of the remainder of a code being given by God, as is the case for the remainder of Leviticus.

It is also alleged by critical scholarship that several additional laws, written with a style unlike that of the Holiness Code but like that of the remainder of Leviticus, were inserted into the body of the text by the Priestly source.[citation needed] These alleged additions are:

The prohibition against consuming the naturally dead (Leviticus 17:15–16)
The order to make trespass offerings after sexual involvement with an engaged slavewoman (Leviticus 19:20–22)
The prohibition against an anointed high priest uncovering his head or rending his clothes (Leviticus 21:10)
The prohibition against offerings by Aaronic priests who are blemished (Leviticus 21:21–22)
The order to keep the sabbath, passover, and feast of unleavened bread (Leviticus 23:1–10a)
The order to keep Yom Kippur, and Sukkot (Leviticus 23:23–44)
The order for continual bread and oil (Leviticus 24:1–9)
Case law concerning a blasphemer (Leviticus 24:10–15a and 24:23)
The order for a trumpet sounding on Yom Kippur (Leviticus 25:9b)
Rules concerning redeeming property (Leviticus 25:23 and 25:26–34)
Order to release Israelite slaves at the year of jubilee (Leviticus 25:40, 25:42, 25:44–46)
Rules concerning redeeming people (Leviticus 25:48–52, and 25:54)
The section concerning continual bread and oil is, in critical scholarship, viewed as part of the description of the structure of the tabernacle, and vestments, present at the end of Exodus, which has accidentally become inserted at this point due to scribal error. The case law example of blasphemy is believed to be the work of one of the later editions of the priestly source, in which several other case law examples were added, such as that concerning the daughters of Zelophehad (Numbers 36). The remainder of the alleged additions arguably deform the laws from the manner they would otherwise have, to the laws supported by the priestly code. Whether these represent alterations to the law over time, lawmaking by the writer of the political faction supported by the priestly source, or simply details present but not originally thought worth mentioning, is a matter of some debate.

More recent critical scholarship, particularly that of Israel Knohl, and Jacob Milgrom, has argued instead that the Holiness Code (H) was the appendage, and the Priestly Code (P) the original. This view also identifies passages outside the traditional area of H, specifically in Exodus and Numbers, as belonging to the Holiness Code rather than P, such as the order to sound a trumpet on certain dates. In consequence, this view sees the author of H as the editor of P, rather than the reverse, in particular as P is able to be read coherently even when devoid of H. Nevertheless, the presence of what appears to be a clear ending to H (specifically Leviticus 26, which would be expected to have been moved), such as to be after Leviticus 27, if H were the addition, rather than the original, has presented some problems for such revising of the theory.

The Holiness Code is a collection of many laws concerning several subjects. Critical scholarship therefore regards it as being generally a work constructed by the collecting together of a series of earlier collections of laws. One of the most noticeable elements of the work is a large section concerning various sexual activities, which are prohibited "lest the land vomit you out".[4] These prohibitions include sexual relations with one's mother, step-mother, sister, step-sister, sister-in-law, aunt, granddaughter, daughter-in-law, with a woman as well as her daughter, with a ritually unclean woman, with the wife of a neighbor, with another man, or with an animal. These prohibitions are listed in Leviticus 18, and again in chapter 20, both times with the warning "lest the land vomit you out."

While Leviticus 18 presents them as a simple list, Leviticus 20 presents them in a chiastic structure based on how serious a crime they are viewed, as well as presenting the punishment deemed appropriate for each, ranging from excommunication to execution. Leviticus 20 also presents the list in a more verbose manner.

Furthermore, Leviticus 22:11–21 parallels Leviticus 17, and there are, according to textual criticism, passages at Leviticus 18:26, 19:37, 22:31–33, 24:22, and 25:55, which, have the appearance of once standing at the end of independent laws or collections of laws as colophons. For this reason, several scholars view the five sections preceding between each of these passages as deriving from originally separate documents. In particular, the two segments containing the sexual prohibitions, Leviticus 17:2–18:26 and Leviticus 20:1–22:33, are seen as being based on essentially the same law code, with Leviticus 20:1–22:33 regarded as the later version of the two.

Chapter 19, which ends in a colophon, has a similarity with the Ritual Decalogue, though presenting a more detailed and expanded version, leading critical scholars to conclude it represents a much later version of that decalogue. Notably, it contains the commandment popularly referred to as love thy neighbour as thyself (the Great Commandment), and begins with the commandment ye shall be holy, for I, Yahweh, am holy, which Christianity regards as the two most important commandments. This chapter is widely regarded as a very elegantly written development of ethics.[citation needed]

By this reckoning, there are thus at least five earlier law collections which were redacted together, with an additional hortatory conclusion, to form the Holiness Code. Two of which contain a list of sexual prohibitions, and one of which was a development of the Ritual Decalogue.

The holiness code is believed to have been written as a form to avoid sexual deviations, sexually transmitable diseases and other forms of physical illness for the people of Israel with some specified as applicable for Proselytes. Some of its teachings are still in practice in the mainstream Christian denominations, however see Leviticus 18 and Biblical law in Christianity for details.

Among evangelical Christians, there is debate about how much of this passage can be applicable today since the Levitical priesthood and animal sacrifice ended in AD 70, with the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans. Many in these groups see references to sexuality therein and as being reiterated for emphasis elsewhere in the Bible; for example, in the Epistle to the Romans. Orthodox Jews continue many of the practices, but they generally regard precepts not in current practice as being in only temporary abeyance until a Third Temple can be rebuilt and they can be restored.

Source: WIKIPEDIA Holiness Code


Anonymous said...

I don't understand this post. We don't believe any of this.

Neshama said...

For those who might not understand this, it comes from: c. 486 BCE - Darius I adopted the Holiness Code of Leviticus for Persian Jews of the Achaemenid Empire, enacting the first state sanctioned death penalty for male same-sex intercourse.

Taken from Leviticus ch17–26, which is part of the Torah. The Torah stands today as it did at Har Sinai.

Anonymous said...

There is really no reason to put the interpretations of non-Jews to Torah. Our Sages teach us that we can learn many things from the nations but never, ever Torah. It is something they can never really understand unless one has a Jewish neshamah. We have to understand that every letter, vowel and word in the Torah is pure holiness and we must obey its Commandments. How other peoples interpret and revise means absolutely NOTHING to us.

Anonymous said...

It's very confusing, the way you presented.Especially those references this link gives like"Some of its teachings are still in practice in the mainstream Christian denominations, however see Leviticus 18 and Biblical law in Christianity for details." In any case, this is misleading.

Jonah said...

Huge difference in learning Torah from a non-Jew and learning a new way for YOU to interpret the holy words. Just my two cents.

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