Leviticus and Numbers
Publication Year: 2013
Like other volumes in the Texts @ Contexts series, these essays de-center the often homogeneous first-world orientation of much biblical scholarship and open up new possibilities for discovery.
Published by: Augsburg Fortress Publishers
Series: Text @ Contexts
Title Page, Copyright
Other Books in the Series
The discipline of biblical studies emerges from a particular cultural context; it is profoundly influenced by the assumptions and values of the Western European and North Atlantic, male-dominated, and largely Protestant environment in which it was born. Yet like the religions with which it is involved, the critical study of the...
Amadi Ahiamadu is lecturer in the Department of Religious and Cultural Studies, University of Port Harcourt, Nigeria, and a research fellow of the Department of Old and New Testament, University of Stellenbosch, South Africa. He is also a member...
Both Leviticus and Numbers begin with the claim that what is set out in them was delivered by the Hebrew God to Moses at the Tent of Meeting, in the desert, on the way from Egypt to the promised land (Lev. 1:1; Num. 1:1). Numbers goes further, giving the date of delivery as well, as the second month in the second year of the exodus from Egypt (1:1). Leviticus ends on this note: “These are the commandments...
PART I Issues in Leviticus
1 Landed Interpretation
The title of this essay is a little misleading, suggesting that I write from a single location, when in fact my training in multiple disciplines gives me liminal academic status. I am not only an environmental ethicist; I am a former biblicist and archaeologist who has chosen ethics as her academic home because it is an ideal place for posing...
2 USDA or YHWH?
Recent work in Old Testament theology has focused attention on the context of the interpreters and the role this plays in orienting and shaping their studies. In a chapter titled “What is a ‘Theology of Genesis’?” in his Theology of the Book of Genesis, Walter Moberly writes, “There is something intrinsically contextual and provisional about theological use of the biblical text. Theology is not a once-for-all exercise...
3 “Do Not Bare Your Heads and Do Not Rend Your Clothes” (Leviticus 10:6)
Many agree nowadays that objective research devoid of a personal dimension is a chimera. As noted by Fewell (1987: 77), the very choice of a research topic is influenced by subjective factors. Until October 2008, mourning in the Bible and the ways in which people deal with bereavement had never been one of my particular fields of interest...
4 Slave Wives and Transgressive Unions in Biblical and Ancient Near Eastern Laws and Literature
Several years ago, I attended a talk within the Orthodox Jewish community in London on monogamy among the patriarchs. As it sounded intriguing, given the polygamous situation in Jacob’s household, I was curious to hear what this well-known rabbi had to say on the matter. The focus of the lecture was Isaac and Rebecca, who were indeed monogamous. The issue of polygamy among the patriarchs was never...
5 The Notion of כפר in the Book ofLeviticus and Chinese Popular Religion
The term Chinese popular religion1 has been much debated and problematized in religious studies and thus demands further elaboration2 (Bell 1989; Fowler and Fowler 2008: 224–49).3 First of all, I do not use the term in opposition to the so-called official/institutional/elite religions, whether in ancient or in modern China. The two categories, in spite of their noticeable differences, do not constitute a dichotomy. In fact...
6 Golden Do’s and Don’ts
In a recent seminary course where we discussed the ethical values of the Hebrew Bible, the New Testament, and the Qur’an, students compared the guiding ethical principles of these scriptures to the principles and values coded in the United Nations Declaration of Universal Human Rights (UNDUHR),1 the foundational document for...
PART II Issues in Numbers
7 Bitter Waters (Numbers 5), FloodWaters (Genesis 6–9), and Some Theologies of Exile and Land
In this essay I offer an intertextual reading of the Soṭah ritual of the bitter waters (Num. 5:1-31) and the flood narrative (Gen. 6:1—9:28). I argue that these two texts function as structural, ritual, literary, and theological equivalents of, respectively, divorce as described in Deut. 24:1-4 and exile as interpreted in many prophetic texts, especially in Jeremiah (e.g., Jer. 29:1-14) and Ezekiel (e.g., Ezekiel 36), as a punishment...
8 From the Well in Midian to the Ba‘al of Peor
My interest in the subject of this essay is first and foremost scholarly and academic, but also political and ideological. Let me explain. I am an Israeli, born in Tel Aviv. My grandfather was an ordained rabbi; after returning from the synagogue on Shabbat morning, he would give me lessons in the Teaching of the...
9 Numbers 25 and Beyond
In Ezra 9, having returned to Jerusalem from captivity in Babylon and finding that the “holy seed ha[d] mixed itself with the peoples of the lands” (Ezra 9:1), Ezra is appalled (9:4). His response takes the form of a lamenting prayer (vv. 6-15), which is really a sermon, addressing what he perceived as faithlessness on the part of the returned exiles...
10 Indicting YHWH
...What I intend to do here is simple and straightforward.1 First, I will begin with a brief overview of popular European depictions of Oceania, which will serve as a contextual platform for my reading of Numbers 25. Second, I will discuss Anne McClintock’s concept of “porno-tropics,” some aspects of which will also inform my reading. Third, I will...
11 A Queer Womanist Midrashic Readingof Numbers 25:1-18
What makes an interpretation feminist?1 A feminist interpretation is one in which gender forms a, if not the, critical lens through which the object—text, artifact, performance, culture, and so on—is interpreted. The gender lens is a multifocal tool, so gender as an interpretive medium includes gendering disclosed in and constructed by the text, artifact, performance, or culture being interpreted and the gender configurations...
12 Assessing Female Inheritance of Land in Nigeria with the Daughters of Zelophehad Narrative (Numbers 27:1-11)
The choice of the narratives about Zelophehad’s daughters is intended to highlight its relevance to understanding the inheritance rights of women in Nigeria. The side-by-side reading of the two disparate cultures, across time and place, helps us analyze a problem in the Niger Delta areas that demands an attitudinal change with...
13 Reading Iconoclastic Stipulations in Numbers 33:50-56 from the Pluralistic Religious Context of China
Christian evangelical missionary work in the religiously plural Asian context is more often than not characterized by iconoclastic polemics for undermining the value and integrity of Asian religious cultures.1 Missionaries, regardless of their religious persuasion as either liberal or conservative, have the ultimate goal of converting the so-called pagans. Though practically impossible, conversion is said to be complete only when..