Deuteronomy 21:1-9 a programmatic anomaly? : a thematic and programmatic analysis of Deuteronomy 21:1-9 within the context of the Deuteronomist’s agenda

Robinson, A. G. (2016-02-18)

Thesis (MTh)--Stellenbosch University, 2015.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Deuteronomy 21:1-9 falls within the Deuteronomic legal corpus and, more broadly, within the Deuteronomistic History. Its final form, as recognized by several scholars, betrays an origin of earlier antiquity than the immediate context of Deuteronomy suggests. Further to this, the nature of the ritual, frequently called the “’egla ritual”, appears at first reading, to disobey some of the basic tenets of the laws of Deuteronomy and this bears some investigation. At the heart of the book of Deuteronomy is “the place that the LORD your God will choose out of all your tribes to put his name and make his habitation there” (The Holy Bible: English Standard Version, 2001, Deut 12:5). This centralized place of worship is the place where all cultic activity is to occur. The importance of this “place” is highlighted by the fact that the notion is unique to the Deuteronomistic History (Deut to 2 Kings) and is presented to the exclusion of any local sanctuary for worship. The allowing of secular slaughter of animals for food in Deuteronomy 12:15 further highlights this cultic centralization motif, by making the local slaughter of animals non-cultic. The appearance of the “’egla ritual”, in which there is the killing of an animal in a local context for what appear to be cultic purposes, seems to disobey this fundamental prescription of the Deuteronomistic work reinforced throughout the Deuteronomistic History in the evaluation of the kings. Further to this oddity, there is the matter of the clumsiness of the inclusion of the priests in verse 5, which seem to serve no cultic purpose; the need for both judges and elders in the act of measurement in verse 2; and the hand-washing accompanied by what appears to be an oath formula. This local rite, then, seems to stick out from the centralizing YHWHistic landscape of Deuteronomy as somewhat anomalous and begs the question, “does it belong?” To answer this question, more clearly formulated in the title of this study, the specific aims or agendas of the Deuteronomist are ascertained and defined in order to discover how these agendas agree with the ritual. These are defined as, firstly, the divesting of the monarchy of sovereign power; secondly, the centralization of the Cult; and thirdly, the reassignment of the jurisdiction of the judiciary from the monarch to the cult. A detailed exegesis follows, after which the “’egla ritual” is specifically examined with regard to the agendas of the Deuteronomist. It is concluded that the “’egla ritual”, having undergone a lengthy process of development, appears as thoroughly Deuteronomistic in its final form. Its chief impact however, since it is neither cultic, nor entirely judicial, since it fails to deal with the guilt of the unknown perpetrator of the killing, is of a socially formative nature. This too would appear to be congruent with the apparent purpose of the Deuteronomist in presenting legislation for a new social, political and geographical context. The “’egla ritual” is thus not a programmatic anomaly since it accords with the chief agendas of the Deuteronomist.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Deuteronomium 21:9 val spesifiek binne die Deuteronomiese wetskorpus en meer in die algemeen, in die Deuteronomistiese Geskiedenis. Verskeie vakkundiges dui aan dat die finale vorm op ‘n vroeër oorsprong dui as wat die onmiddelike konteks suggereer. Met die eerste oogopslag blyk dit dat die aard van die ritueel, algemeen bekend as “’egla ritueel”, nie hou aan die basiese beginsels van die wette van Deuteronomium nie, en dit vereis daarom dat verdere ondersoek ingestel moet word. Die onderliggende tema van die boek Deuteronomium is “maar die plek wat die Here julle God uit al julle stamme sal uitkies om sy Naam daar te vestig om daar te woon, moet julle opsoek en daarheen moet jy kom” (Die Bybel, Afrikaans,1933/1953 vertaling, Deut 12:5). Hierdie sentrale plek van aanbidding is die plek waar alle kulturele aktiwiteite moet plaasvind. Die belangrikheid van hierdie sentrale “plek” is uniek aan die Deuteronomistiese Geskiedenis ( Deuteronomium tot 2 Konings ) en word beklemtoon deur die uitsluiting van enige ander plaaslike heiligdom vir aanbidding. Die toelating van die sekulêre slag van diere vir kos in Deuteronomium 12:15, dui dan ook verder op die kultiese sentraliseringsmotief, deurdat dit die plaaslike slag van diere as nie-kulties beklemtoon. Die voorkoms van die “’egla ritueel”, wat dui op die doodmaak van ‘n dier in die plaaslike konteks, skynbaar vir kultiese doeleindes, verontagsaam klaarblyklik hierdie fundamentele voorskrifte van die Deuternomistiese werk, soos ook verder blyk uit die hele Deuteronomistiese Geskiedenis se evaluering van die onderskeie konings. Benewens hierdie afwyking, is daar ook die kwessie van die lompheid in die insluiting van die priesters in vers 5 wat lyk asof dit nie ‘n kultiese doel dien nie; die betrekking van beide regters/rigters en ouderlinge tydens die uitvoer van die afstandsmeting in vers 2; sowel as die handwassery wat vergesel word van ‘n skynbare eedformule. Dié plaaslike rituele blyk dan haaks te staan op die YHWHistiese landskap van sentralisering in Deuteronomium, wat noodwendig lei tot die vraag, “Hoort die ritueel hier?” Om hierdie vraag te beantwoord, soos uitgedruk in die titel van hierdie studie, moet die spesifieke doelwitte of agendas van die Deuteronomis vasgestel en gedefinieer word om te bepaal of hierdie agendas ooreenkom met die ritueel, of nie. Die eerste agenda wat gedefinieer word, is die stroping van die monargie van sowereine krag; tweedens, die sentralisering van die kultus en derdens, die verskuiwing van die regspraak vanaf die monarg na die kultus. ‘n Gedetailleerde eksegese volg, waarna die “’egla ritueel” spesifiek met betrekking tot die agendas van die Deuteronomis, ondersoek word. Die gevolgtrekking word gemaak dat die “’egla ritueel”, na ‘n lang proses van ontwikkeling, in sy finale vorm as deeglik Deuteronomisties voorkom. Die belangrikste impak van die ritueel is egter van 'n sosiaal-formatiewe aard, want dit is nog kulties, nog in geheel geregtelik, aangesien dit nie gaan om die onbekende skuldige by die slag van die dier nie. Dit blyk ook ooreen te stem met die oënskynlike doel van die Deuteronomis om wetgewing vir 'n nuwe sosiale, politieke en geografiese konteks daar te stel. Die “’egla ritueel” is dus nie ‘n programmatiese afwyking nie, aangesien dit strook met die belangrikste van die Deuteronomis se agendas.

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