Posted by: Ken Brown | June 27, 2012

SBL Amsterdam

Amsterdam

Image by MorBCN, by Creative Commons license.

The Society of Biblical Literature International Meeting is less than a month away! For those who might be interested, my paper on Numbers 31 will be presented in one of the Pentateuch sections on Wednesday the 25th (Section 25-46). And if any fellow bloggers will be attending and would like to get together for a meal or whatever, I’ll be in Amsterdam from Saturday evening through Thursday morning. Here’s my abstract:

Revenge and Redemption in Numbers 31

The slaughter of the Midianites in Numbers 31 has received surprisingly little attention outside of the commentaries, yet it is a fascinating text that takes up many earlier traditions in new and creative ways, with a literary sensitivity not often recognized. Picking up its story from Numbers 25 (in 31:2a and 16) and Numbers 20:1-13 (in 31:2b), it depends upon and in various ways adapts regulations found not only in the Priestly literature (esp. Exod 30:11-16; Num 19), but also in Deuteronomy (esp. 20:10-15), and elsewhere. Further strong literary connections are also to be seen with Joshua 22 and Judges 21:1-14.

Thus, Numbers 31 appears to be a late attempt to draw together diverse traditions concerning YHWH-war, as German scholarship especially has emphasized (e.g. Achenbach, Vollendung der Tora, Fistill, Israel und das Ostjordanland; Seebass, Numeri 22,2-36,13). How these traditions are reconciled and adapted, however, warrants further study. In particular, in will be argued that Numbers 31 not only attempts to coordinate YHWH-war traditions related to נקם and חרם with Priestly traditions of purification and the cult, it also uses a variety of literary means to contrast Moses’ command to slaughter the young boys and sexually active women in 31:14-18, with the כפר of “the officers” in 31:48-54. Both actions can be viewed as enactments of YHWH’s נקם and attempts to avert the “plague” (Num 31:16; cf. 25:7-9, 18; and Exod 30:12), but each offers a very different solution to that threat. In the end, it is not Moses’ call for slaughter that is afforded lasting significance, but the officers’ generous gift to the sanctuary.

About these ads

Conversation is what makes blogging worthwhile. Leave a comment.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Categories

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 35 other followers

%d bloggers like this: