Firstfruits and Tithe Offerings in the Construction and Narratives of the Hebrew Bible Open Access

Clark, Timothy Scott (2014)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/tq57nr601?locale=en
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Abstract

This dissertation explores the literary evolution of firstfruits and tithe offerings in the Hebrew Bible as they are employed to shape the covenantal duties and cultic, political, and social identification of "Biblical Israel." It analyzes the presentation of these offerings in four major blocks of text: 1) the Covenant Code and Privilege Law in Exodus, 2) Priestly and Holiness corpora in Leviticus and Numbers, 3) Deuteronomy, and 4) the Exilic and Post-Exilic texts of Ezekiel, Nehemiah, and Chronicles. It examines how these institutions are articulated at critical moments in the Hebrew Bible's narrative to establish the social boundaries, means of communication, and mutual obligations within Israelite society and between Israel and Yahweh. It also explores how the Hebrew Bible uses firstfruits and tithes both to recapitulate and encapsulate the content of Israel's covenant with Yahweh and also to proleptically authorize it. Finally, it shows the special place of firstfruits and tithes in the construction and reconstruction of Israel as "a kingdom of priests and a holy nation," according to each text's very specific social vision. This study will explore how those agendas are articulated and advanced for the Hebrew Bible's reading communities within a coherent canonical context.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments


Chapter 1: Introduction 1
1.1 The Starting Point: Eissfeldt and the Cultic Development Model 6
1.2 The Goal of this Dissertation 10
1.3 Textual Rituals 12
1.4 Ritual and the Problems of Institutional Formation 14
1.5 Plan of Research 18


Chapter 2: The Covenant Code and the Privilege Law (Ex 23:19a; 34:26a) 23
2.1 The Covenant Code 26
2.1.1 Cultic Demands: Festival Regulation 31
2.1.2 Ritual Sealing of the Covenant Code 33
2.1.3 Firstfruits as Contract Consideration 37
2.2 The Privilege Law 41
2.3 Conclusion 45


Chapter 3: The Priestly and Holiness Traditions 47
3.1 Leviticus 2: Firstfruits within Ritual Taxonomy 50
3.2 Leviticus 19:23-25: Circumcising Firstfruits 62
3.3 Excursus: Ezekiel's Festival Calendar 67
3.4 Leviticus 23:9-22: Dissolution and Reconstruction of the Land 69
3.4.1 The ’ōmer Rite 73
3.4.2 Seven Sabbaths: Ordering Liminal Time 77
3.4.3 The bikkûrîm Rite 79
3.4.4 Firstfruits and the Land 81
3.4.5 Firstfruits and Jubilee 84
3.4.6 Firstfruits and H's Theological Vision 89
3.5 Leviticus 27: Affirming Covenantal Responsibilities 90
3.6 Numbers 15:18-21: Repairing Rebellion 96
3.7 Numbers 18:12-13, 20-32: Ordering the Sacred Community 101
3.7.1 Firstfruits 103
3.7.2 Tithes 105
3.8 Numbers 28:26-31: Ritual Taxonomies Revisited 112
3.9 Conclusion 116


Chapter 4: Deuteronomy 118
4.1 Firstfruits and the Formation of Israel 120
4.1.1 Audiences for the Firstfruits Rite 122
4.1.2 Deuteronomy 26:1-11 and the Deuteronomic Law Code 123
4.1.3 Ritual and Confession: Forging a Symbol 128
4.1.4 Firstfruits as Index of Refashioned Israel 130
4.1.5 Israel's Perishing Father 132
4.1.6 Egypt's Oppression and Yahweh's Salvation 136
4.1.7 Israel's Land and Covenant Terms 137
4.1.8 Fruits of Life 139
4.1.9 Threat of Death 141
4.1.10 Reversibility of the Fruits of Life 145
4.1.11 Geographic Liminality 147
4.1.12 Conclusion 155
4.2 Tithes and Israel's Perfection 156
4.2.1 Definition and Disposition of ma‘ăśēr in Deuteronomy 157
4.2.2 Social Function of Deuteronomy's Tithe Law 159
4.2.3.Deuteronomy 12: Tithes and Israel's Stipulated Offerings 161
4.2.4 Deuteronomy 14:22-29: Tithes in Covenantal Perspective 167
4.2.4.1 Tithes and Cult Centralization 170
4.2.4.2 The Third-Year Tithe 172
4.2.4.3 Israel's "Imitatio Dei" 173
4.2.5 Deuteronomy 26:12-15: Microcosm of the Covenant Society 175
4.2.6 Deuteronomy 26:16-19: Mutual Affirmation 182
4.2.7 Conclusion 185


Chapter 5: Ezekiel, Nehemiah, and Chronicles 186
5.1 Ezekiel 187
5.2 Nehemiah 191
5.2.1 Firstfruits and Tithes in the Rededication of Israel 193
5.2.2 Social Order Inscribed through Firstfruits and Tithes 195
5.3 Second Chronicles 31:4-12 197
5.3.1 Reestablishing the Festival Calendar 201
5.3.2 Firstfruits and Tithes as Social Equalizers 202
5.3.3 Firstfruits, Tithes, and Foreign Policy 203
5.4 Conclusion 204


Chapter 6: Conclusion 206


Bibliography 218

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