I don't have the link but Doctor X wrote the essay on how Israel performed child sacrifice because it was commanded by their god.Ask and ye shall recieve, rev45.
This was an essay written by Doctor x back in '06 or earlier.
Child Sacrifice (by Doctor x):
While traditionally more of a Christmas subject [Stop that.--Ed.] here is an essay I have put together on the subject of child sacrifice in the Hebrew Bible. It was John J. Collins' address to the Society of Biblical Literature that started this:
It is now widely recognized that human sacrifice was practiced in ancient Israel much later than scholars of an earlier generation had assumed. (Collins)
"Much later?" Since when was it recognized that it was practiced at all? Yet another principle of biblical scholarship that does not seem well-advertised! I began hunting down references and had some very entertaining conversations with some of their authors on the matter. I summarized these initially to discuss the subject, and over time I have expanded it as more information became available.
To begin, one must understand that different authors were responsible for different portions of the texts of the Pentateuch [Torah--Ed.]. I will use the Documentary Hypothesis [DH--Ed.] as presented in Friedman's references. First, let me give a brief overview of the DH for those who may never have delved into this area. Friedman's second source provides a nice summary of the arguments for multi-authorship in a 31-page introduction, whilst providing the texts of the Pentateuch divided into the authors. This makes seeing how the Redactor blended the J and P versions of the Flood Myth much easier, for example. I will not get into possible layers of authorship, though it appears that the main authors represent the work of individuals rather than committees or schools. D is usually divided into two authors, and Friedman argues for the same author writing at different periods. Friedman details theories on the dates for these authors in his references.
J: is the "Jahwist" author, known for his use of YHWH for the name of the deity. He never uses Elohim, though individuals in the J stories may. Friedman demonstrates the connection between J and Judah which I will not summarize for space.
E: is the "Eloist" author, known for his use of Elohim for the name of the deity. "Elohim" is actually plural--"gods"--and while the traditions may preserve truly polytheistic conceptions, by context the name refers to at least a deity more important than the others. Just to cause confusion, E will switch to YHWH after he appears to Moses and identifies himself as such. Friedman identifies E as a Shiloh Levite priest, possibly descended from the Mosaic line, named Bob [Stop that.--Ed.]. Right, again, he devotes about a chapter to the evidence for this.
D: is the Deutronomistic author, who, according to Friedman, writes a lot of the OT--Deuteronomy-Joshua-Judges-1 & 2 Samuel-1 & 2 Kings. He has similar attitudes as E--hates Aaronid priesthood: "In his introduction and conclusion to the book of Deuteronomy, he mentioned Aaron only twice: once to say that he died, and once to say that God was mad enough to destroy him in the matter of the golden calf." Long . . . long . . . long story short, Friedman suggests he is Jeremiah or, more likely, Jeremiah's scribe Baruch.
D generally uses JE, but does quote P to reverse P. For example, the book of Jeremiah contains quotes from P. It ". . . reverses the language of the P creation story, denies that God emphasized matters of sacrifices in the day that Israel left Egypt. Jeremiah knew the Priestly laws and stories. He did not like them, but he knew them."
P: is the "Priestly" author. He uses JE and follows the stories. Indeed, he uses Elohim like E, though, according to Friedman, his style is so identifiable, he was easy to separate from E. Also, the "Elohim" stories have "doublets"--repeated material--which suggests two authors. Friedman identifies him as an Aaronid priest, or one serving their interests. P promotes Aaron and diminishes Moses:
P was written as an alternative to JE. The JE stories regularly said: "And Yahweh said unto Moses. . . ." But the author of P often made it: "And Yahweh said unto Moses and unto Aaron. . . ."
Again, Friedman goes into detail. Here is a fun one for you Creation Fans:
. . . in the twin stories of the flood . . . the J version said that Noah took seven pairs of all the clean (i.e., fit for sacrifice) animals and one pair of the unclean animals on the ark. But P just said that it was two of every kind of animal. Why? Because, in J, at the end of the story Noah offers a sacrifice. He therefore needs more than two of each of the clean animals or his sacrifice would wipe out a species. In P's perspective, however, two sheep and two cows are enough because there will be no portrayals of sacrifices until the consecration of Aaron.
R: is the "Redactor" who put together the texts. Interestingly, he does not significantly "harmonize" the stories--removing repetitions or even conflicts--and contributes little "new" material.
It is One of the Commandments! To Redeem or Not to Redeem:
Exod 22:28-29 "You shall not delay your fulfillment and your flowing.
"You shall give me the firstborn of your sons.
"You shall do this to your ox and to your sheep: Seven days it will be with its mother. On the eighth day you shall give it to me."
Exod 34:19-20 Every first issue of the womb is Mine, from all your livestock that drop a male as firstling. . . . . . . And you must redeem every first-born among your sons.
Exod 13:1-2 YHWH said to Moses, "Consecrate to me all the first-born; whatever is the first to open the womb among the people of Israel, both of man and of beast, is mine." [From RSV--Ed.]
"Redemption" does not arise until Exod 13:13b: "'Every first-born of man among your sons you shall redeem.'"
Exod 22:28-29 is part of the Elohist or E material. Exod 13 is controversial. Friedman notes the possibility of the work of the Deuteronomistic Historian or D material. Frankly, given the "distance" between redemption and the requirement, I think it possible that Exod 13:13b is an addition. However, assigning both Exod 22:28-29 and Exod 13 to E creates a "doublet" or a repetition of material which Friedman does not explain.
Now, Exod 34:19-20 is assigned to the Yahwist/Jahwist or J material. Back to Levenson:
Though Exodus 34 and 13 show faithful YHWHists how they might--indeed, must--evade the sacrifice of their first-born sons, these texts also point up by contrast the absence of any such provision in the corpus of law in which Exod 22:28-29 appears.
"I'm Not Dead!!" "You're Not Fooling Anyone, Isaac!" Genesis 22:
The text of Genesis 22 is complicated. This story is often referred to as the aqedah/akedah or "binding." Note that in the beginning you have "God"--Elohim--then suddenly you wander into YHWH. The Redactor of J and E [RJE--Ed.]--whom scholars feel combined the texts into one--is considered responsible for the "saving" of Isaac. At least, that portion of the story is his work. Gen 22:11-16a represents this combination. Exactly which portions of 11-16a is J, E, and RJE is difficult to prove.
As Friedman describes in Who Wrote the Bible?, citing Spiegel:
As extraordinary as it may seem, it has been suggested that in the original version of this story Isaac was actually sacrificed, and that the intervening four verses were added subsequently, when the notion of human sacrifice was rejected (perhaps by the person who combined J and E). (Friedman, WWtB)
Significantly, Isaac never again appears in the E narrative.
It can drive one a little nuts trying to separate and follow the sources in your basic RSV/JPS bibles! Friedman, who made the Documentary Hypothesis accessible to those who are not scholars, finally came out with a version of the Pentateuch with the sources in different type. It is much easier to see how 22:1-10 flows right into 16b-19.
Here is how the chapter works out according to Friedman:
E: 22:1-10; 16b-19
and how it looks, using the colors above, the RSV from BlueLetterBible (http://www.blueletterbible.org/cgi-bin/tools/printer-friendly.pl?book=Gen&chapter=22&version=rsv&Go.x=29&Go.y=5
) to save me some typing, Friedman's translation to correct some parts, and with name Elohim used by E for "god" to highlight the differences. Note also that the change from Abram to Abraham never occurs in E. It is felt that the RJE "fixes" this subsequently:
And it was after these things and Elohim tested Abraham, and said to him, "Abraham!"
And he said, "Here am I."
He said, "Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering upon one of the mountains of which I shall tell you."
So Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his ass, and took his two boys with him and Isaac, his son. And he cut the wood for the burnt offering, and arose and went to the place that Elohim had said to him. On the third day: and Abraham lifted up his eyes and saw the place from a distance. And Abraham said to his boys, "Sit here with the ass; I and the boy will go over there, and we will bow, and we will come again to you." And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering, and laid it on Isaac his son; and he took in his hand the fire and the knife.
So they went both of them together.
And Isaac said to his father Abraham, "My father!"
And he said, "Here am I, my son."
He said, "Here are the fire and the wood, but where is the sheep for a burnt offering?"
Abraham said, "Elohim will provide himself the sheep for a burnt offering, my son."
So they went both of them together.
And they came to the place of which Elohim had told him, and Abraham built an altar there, and arranged the wood, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar, upon the wood. And Abraham put forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son.
And an angel of YHWH called to him from the skies and said, "Abraham, Abraham!"
And he said, "Here am I."
And he said, "Do not lay your hand on the lad or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear Elohim, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me."
And Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked, and here was a ram behind, caught in a thicket by his horns. And Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son. And Abraham called the name of that place "YHWH Yir'eh," as is said to this day: "In YHWH's mountain it will be seen."
And an angel of YHWH called to Abraham a second time from the skies. And he said, "I swear by me--word of YHWH--that because you did this thing, and did not withhold your son, your only one, I will indeed bless you, and I will multiply your descendants as the stars of heaven and as the sand which is on the seashore. And your descendants shall possess the gate of their enemies, and by your descendants shall all the nations of the earth bless themselves, because you have obeyed my voice."
And Abraham returned to his boys, and they got up and went together to Beer-sheba, and Abraham dwelt at Beer-sheba.
Note the parallels in the E story--Elohim calls to Abraham who responds, "here I am," Abraham calls to Isaac who responds, "here I am." Also note the strange reward--because Abraham gave his only son he is rewarded with more sons. This proves strange if his son still lives. As Spiegel notes, the fact that the verb "returned" from "And Abraham returned to, . . ." is in the singular did not pass unnoticed by theologians and scholars throughout history. The search for the answers to the obvious question "where was Issac?" and explain why he disappears from the subsequent narratives, pestered theologians and scholars for centuries.
While Friedman may consider this interpretation so "extraordinary" he buries it in an endnote, Speigel demonstrates that it was not at all "extraordinary" through generations. He details appeals to the akedah amongst communities committing suicide in the face persecution as if Isaac actually died. Never is there the complaint or qualification that Isaac received a divine reprieve:
How is it then that from out of the mouths of these votaries and victims, or the relations of the slain, there did not burst forth a painful groan like to that of the saintly mother, bereft of all her sons, as she addressed herself to Father Abraham and, even to the deaf-mute heavens--You built one altar and did not sacrifice your son, but we built altars in the hundreds and thousands and did sacrifice our children on them! Yours was the trial, but ours were the performances! (Speigel)
Speigel then asks rhetorically:
Is it possible that those who did the sacrificing and those who where the sacrifices in those calamity-laden times imagined that on Mount Moriah also, at the command of his Creator, the father rose up and took his son Isaac, bound him, slew him, then burnt his victim, and the ashes thereof are still in a heap on top of the alter as stored-up merit and for the atonement of generation after generation to the end of time . . . ? (Speigel)
Speigel reviews the traditions that Isaac did indeed die and was even burned to ashes as required. In some cases, Isaac is resurrected, in others he is not. (Speigel)
Since there are no extant witnesses to the separate E and J works one cannot prove Isaac's death. However, it is very odd that the RJE suddenly prefers the J story exclusively when it deals with Isaac, discarding any comparable E material.
The lady doth protest too much, methinks in Jeremiah 19:5-6:
They have built shrines to Baal, to put their children to the fire as burnt offerings to Baal--which I never commanded, never decreed, and which never came into My mind. Assuredly, a time is coming--declares the Lord--when this place shall not longer be called Topeth or Valley of Benihinnom ["Valley of the son of Hinnom" in RSV.--Ed.], but Valley of Slaughter.
Levenson gives the date for Jeremiah between late 7th and early 6th centuries BCE. Friedman argues strongly for the connection between the D material and Jeremiah and that the same author wrote and edited both. Day notes that the phrase "which I have not commanded"--'(a)s(h)er lo' siwwiti--is found in Deut 17:3 where, ". . . reference is made to one who 'has gone and served other gods and worshipped them or the sun or the moon or any of the host of heaven,which I have not commanded.'" (Day, YHWH). Friedman further speculates D is Baruch son of Neriyah. He dates the first "part" of D to before the death of Josiah in 609 BCE and the second after the Babylonian destruction and exile in 587 BCE. The relevance of that is the lateness of the texts; Jeremiah does not condemn an "ancient" practice. Levenson comments:
The threefold denial of the origin of the practice in YHWH's will . . . suggests that the prophet doth protest too much. . . . If the practitioners of child sacrifice, unlike Jeremiah, thought that YHWH did indeed ordain the rite, then we may have here some indirect evidence that the literal reading of Exod 22:28b . . . was not absurd in ancient Israel, . . . It appears, instead, that Jeremiah's attacks on child sacrifice are aimed not only at the practice itself, but also at the tradition that YHWH desires it.
It's a fair cop! Ezek 20:25-26:
I [YHWH.--Ed.], in turn, gave them laws that were not good and rules by which they could not live: When they set aside every first issue of the womb, I defiled them by their very gifts--that I might render them desolate, that they might know that I am the Lord.
The RSV and other translations preserve perhaps a better translation:
Moreover I gave them statutes that were not good and ordinances by which they could not have life; and I defiled them through their very gifts in making them offer by fire all their first-born, that I might horrify them; I did it that they might know I am the Lord.
in that they preserve the reference to immolation--"passing through fire." Day notes comparisons of the phrase translated as "passing through fire"--h'byr--with other OT passages demonstrates equivalence with "sacrifice" and ". . . confirms that h'byr applied to human beings was something terrifying. . . . . . . A more appropriate translation of h'byr b's(h) would be 'he offered up in the fire' rather than 'he passed . . . through the fire'." (Day, YHWH). Levenson cites this passage in support of the contention:
. . . that only at a particular stage rather late in the history of Israel was child sacrifice branded as counter to the will of YHWH. . . .
But, whereas Jeremiah vociferously denied the origin of the practice in the will of YHWH, Ezekiel affirmed it: YHWH gave Israel "laws that were not good" in order to desolate them, . . . The evil that he once willed is the law that requires sacrifice of the first-born.
Combining this with the blunt statement that YHWH did indeed ordain child sacrifice, Ezek 20:25-26 has over the centuries had most exegetes running for cover.
Friedman dates Ezekiel to the Babylonian exile. Smith cites this text to indicate, "that in the seventh century child sacrifice was a Judean practice performed in the name of Yahweh." (Smith, EHG). Schmidt agrees that this, ". . . indicates that YHWH gave Israel over to such a abomination, that is, if one is justified in assuming that the sacrifice of the firstborn was intimately related to, if not the same as . . . Molek sacrifice."
For the oven (topteh) has long been prepared, yea for the king (lammelek) it is made ready, its pyre made deep and wide, with fire and wood in abundance; the breadth of YHWH, like a stream of brimstone, kindles it (Day, Molech).
Smith considers this the best evidence for the early practice of child sacrifice in Israel (Smith, EHG). Schmidt agrees that it ". . . clearly implicates YHWH in the child sacrifices performed at the Tophet. . . . If no such connection were intended in the use of this cult language to describe Assyria's total destruction, then one would have expected some disclaimer to that effect." Day notes that the, ". . . importance of this passage lies in the fact that it is set in a context speaking of the total destruction of the Assyrians. . . . . . . and is inconsistent with the view that merely dedication was involved." (Day, Molech). Regarding the etymology of the Hebrew topet, Day notes in both his works that scholars widely feel that it is cognate with the Aramaic tapya or "stove, fireplace, pot," the Syriac t(e)paya or "bakehouse, oven, kettle, three-legged cauldron," and the Arabic 'utfiya or "the stove." (Day, Molech, YHWH).
Daddy's Little Girl or This Lady Is for Burning Judges 11:29-40:
Then the Spirit of YHWH came upon Jephthah, and he passed through Gilead and Manas'seh, and passed on to Mizpah of Gilead, and from Mizpah of Gilead he passed on to the Ammonites. And Jephthah made a vow to YHWH, and said, "If thou wilt give the Ammonites into my hand, then whoever comes forth from the doors of my house to meet me, when I return victorious from the Ammonites, shall be YHWH's, and I will offer him up for a burnt offering." So Jephthah crossed over to the Ammonites to fight against them; and YHWH gave them into his hand. And he smote them from Aro'er to the neighborhood of Minnith, twenty cities, and as far as Abel-keramim, with a very great slaughter. So the Ammonites were subdued before the people of Israel. Then Jephthah came to his home at Mizpah; and behold, his daughter came out to meet him with timbrels and with dances; she was his only child; beside her he had neither son nor daughter. And when he saw her, he rent his clothes, and said, "Alas, my daughter! you have brought me very low, and you have become the cause of great trouble to me; for I have opened my mouth to YHWH, and I cannot take back my vow." And she said to him, "My father, if you have opened your mouth to the YHWH, do to me according to what has gone forth from your mouth, now that the YHWH has avenged you on your enemies, on the Ammonites." And she said to her father, "Let this thing be done for me; let me alone two months, that I may go and wander on the mountains, and bewail my virginity, I and my companions." And he said, "Go." And he sent her away for two months; and she departed, she and her companions, and bewailed her virginity upon the mountains. And at the end of two months, she returned to her father, who did with her according to his vow which he had made. She had never known a man. And it became a custom in Israel that the daughters of Israel went year by year to lament the daughter of Jephthah the Gileadite four days in the year.[RSV--Ed.]
The Biblical Hebrew term for "sacrifice" or "burnt offering" is ' ôl âh (Levenson, Smith, EHG), and it "denotes an offering entirely consumed by fire." (Smith, EHG). It is the same word used in the first chapter of Leviticus (Smith, EHG). Levenson stresses:
But what is missing in this story is any indication that child sacrifice, painful to father and offspring alive, was inappropriate from God's standpoint. Quite the opposite: Jephthah's actions are intelligible only on the assumption that his daughter--he had no son--could legitimately be sacrificed as a burnt offering to YHWH. Had she not been fit to sacrifice, the vow would have been unfulfillable, as he obviously wishes were the case (v 35).
Unlike the Redacted portion of the aqedah, YHWH does not order a substitution. YHWH does not act in any fashion that would indicate he finds Jephthah promise at all offensive.
Similar to the disturbing realization that child sacrifice is not inappropriate in the Jephthah story is the question asked:
"With what shall I come before YHWH, and bow myself before God [Elohim--Ed.] on high? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? Will YHWH be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousands of rivers of oil? Shall I give my first-born for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?"
Do Not Try to Pick Up Chicks in THIS Herem:
Collins article discusses the herem, ". . . or ban, the practice whereby the defeated enemy was devoted to destruction." There is a "." underneath the "h" for ye purists, indicating het. This section alone makes Collins' article worth a read. Basically, he notes that the various YHWH-ordered smiting of various Somethingorotherakites--such as 1 Sam 15:3: "Now go and attack Amalek, and utterly destroy (hrm) all that they have; do not spare them, but kill both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey." Apparently he likes bunnies. . . . Anyways, the herem is not an odd practice. The Moabite Stone erected by the 9th century BCE King Mesha has him squishing "Nebo from Israel" and offering "seven thousand men, boys, women, girls, and maid-servant" to Ashtar-Chemosh. [Text of Moabite Stone is from the ANET.--Ed.]
The point Collins stresses:
The enemy is deemed worthy of being offered to God. [That refers to the argument of Niditch.--Ed.] One hopes that the Canaanites appreciated the honor. Rather than respect for human life, the practice bespeaks a totalistic attitude, which is common in armies and warfare, wherein the individual is completely subordinated to the interests of the group. Niditch is quite right, however, that the ban as sacrifice requires "a God who appreciates human sacrifice," and that those who practiced the ban "would presumably have something in common with those who believed in the efficacy of child sacrifice." (Collins)
Smith notes the Ugaritic tradition of *hrm expressed in Anat's battle in CAT 1.13 [Dietrich reference.--Ed.]:
Destroy under the ban (hrm) for two days,
Sh[ed blood (?)] for three days,
go, kill for fo[ur] days. . . ! (Smith, OBM)
Anat conducts *hrm warfare by slaying her enemies in battle, taking the captives to her home/temple, then devours them (Smith, OBM). Similar language underlies the ban of the Moabite stele and Israeli battles. Smith offers I Kings 20:24 in which when Ahab spares the life of Ben-hadad, a prophet confronts him:
Thus said the Lord: "Because you have set free the man whom I doomed [literally, the man of my herem], your life shall be forfeit for his life and your people for his people." (Smith, OBM)
The herem is not an option. Kings fighting under YHWH must devote the enemy to him. As with the Saul story, mercy towards even one captive ignites the wrath of YHWH. For those who might consider that those "devoted" to YHWH were given light cleaning duties in the Tabernacle, consider Lev 27:29: "No one devoted who is to be utterly destroyed from among men shall be ransomed; he shall be put to death." Similarly, human sacrifice does not involve anything less than the death and immolation of the victim. As Speigel stresses, understanding of Lev 1:9--"And the priest shall turn the whole into smoke on the altar as a burnt offering, an offering by fire of pleasing odor to YHWH."--drove commentary that held the entire ram substituted for Isaac in the J portion of the aqedah narrative was burned including the bones, tendons, horns and hoofs (Speigel, quoting Mishnah Zebahim 9.5 and the Talmud) in distinction to those such as Rashi and Rabbi Hanina ben Dosa who imagined portions of the ram handling such duties as providing strings for David's harp, and the horn that sounded alarm on Mt. Sinai! Commentators underwent some torturous exegetical gymnastics to "save the ram" for such stories:
There were some naturally who tried to solve this problem by assuming that before the actual offering was made, the tendons and horns fell from the ram's body and therefore never went up in smoke--or perhaps they dropped from the alter and were not put back on. (Speigel)
An even more imaginative commentator argues that YHWH "kneaded" the ashes of the horns together to recreate them! (Speigel) Worse for those who argue a less-than-crispy fate for the sacrificed is the understanding of the "talmudic Sages" that, according to Lev 1:7--"And the sons of Aaron the priest shall put fire upon the altar and lay wood in order upon the fire"--the utterly correct Abraham must have laid Isaac on wood that was already on the altar's fire! So, in keeping with the instruction, "Do not lay your hand on the lad or do anything to him," Abraham must have left Isaac on the burning wood until he reduced to ashes. (Speigel)