I started The Decalogue in Jewish and Christian Tradition, which was edited by Henning Graf Reventlow and Yair Hoffman. I have two items.
Is there any significance in the order of the Ten Commandments? Edward
Greenstein refers to two scholars who answer in the affirmative. The
first four commands are about people's relationship with God, whereas
the last six concern how people treat their neighbors. Moshe Greenberg
held that the worship of God comes before honoring God's name and
observance of the Sabbath. And Patrick Miller said that the fourth
commandment----the Sabbath command----was "a bridge from God to
neighbor" (Miller's words). This makes sense, since the fourth command
talks about allowing one's manservant and maidservant to rest on the
Sabbath. The fifth commandment----honor your parents----concerns how
people treat those who are closest to themselves, and then the rest of
the commandments deal with how to treat the broader community, as well.
The LXX and the MT are slightly different in how they order the last
five commandments, but that does not affect Miller's idea.
2. I mostly disagreed with Yair Hoffman's characterization of David Aaron's Etched In Stone.
Hoffman says on page 46 that Aaron "suggests that the Decalogue is a
post-exilic document that was composed as a reaction to a previous
priestly Decalogue, that had been supported by Ezra" (page 46). By and
large, that's not my understanding of what Dr. Aaron argued. As I
talked about in my post here,
Aaron argues that there was a secular Decalogue, which was the basis
for what we see in Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5, and later some priests
reacted against the secular Decalogue by developing a cultic Decalogue,
the one in Exodus 34. In short, whereas Hoffman characterizes Aaron as
arguing that the secular Decalogue was a response to the priestly (or
cultic) one, Aaron actually argues the opposite.
But does Aaron
say that the secular Decalogue was post-exilic, as Hoffman states? To
be honest, I'm not entirely clear on this. Aaron maintains that the
proto-narrative that has the secular Decalogue addressed the
Diaspora----by showing that Israel could have a law code without a king,
and covenant tablets (like the pillars of the covenant in Joshua
24:26-27, only portable) outside of the Promised Land (see here).
So you'd think that he believes that the secular Decalogue emerged in
exile, right? Well, not so fast! In a class one time, he did raise the
question of how a document could be written in exile, when Jewish
scribes would need a sponsor to even write (but I do vaguely recall him
saying at some point that there was Jewish scribal activity in the
Diaspora----as at Elephantine). He also said that the Diaspora
co-existed with the post-exilic period, after some point, for there were
many Jews who were in the Diaspora even after some exiled Jews returned
to Palestine. And, in Etched in Stone, Aaron notes that the
Book of Nehemiah lacks the Decalogue as we understand it. So perhaps he
does think that the Decalogue was post-exilic.
Hoffman raises an
interesting point about Aaron's argument that the Decalogue is late
because it is absent in so much of the Hebrew Bible. Hoffman
essentially points out that it's absent in the Dead Sea Scrolls, too,
and it appears only rarely in the Mishnah. Why? Hoffman speculates
that there was a "reluctance to create an unneeded hierarchy within the
halakhah" (page 47). Because the Ten Commandments were directly spoken
by God, one could easily get the impression that they are more important
than the other laws in the Torah. But Judaism wanted to avoid giving
that impression, and so it downplayed the Decalogue. Aharon Oppenheimer
later in the book contends that this was in response to Christians and
Jewish-Christians, who emphasized the Decalogue at the expense of the
other laws, and there are rabbinic passages that refer to minim
(heretics) in explaining why the Decalogue is not read every day (B.
Ber. 12a; Y. Ber. 1.3c, col 9). But Hoffman notices that this trend
goes back to pre-Christian days, and he interprets the minim to be
Gentiles, not necessarily Christians.
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