פָּרָשַׁת אַחֲרֵי מוֹת | Parashat Aḥarei Mōt (Leviticus 16:1-18:30), color-coded according to its narrative layers

According to the poetry of the Midrash Tanḥuma, Bereshit 1:1, the words of the Torah were inscribed “black fire on white fire.” For many years, I’ve wanted to look deeply into the black fire and visualize the full spectrum of the Torah’s sources, hidden within the black fire but revealed through a critical analysis of its layers of redaction. Below, I’ve set the text of the first Torah portion in the annual Torah reading cycle, using color-coding to distinguish the stratigraphic layers forming the composition of the Masoretic text according to the Supplementary Hypothesis presented by Tsemaḥ Yoreh in his Kernel to Canon series of books (2013-2017) and his website, the Sources of Biblical Narrative. As Dr. Yoreh explains,

The Supplementary Hypothesis asserts that the Pentateuch was composed by several different writers. This reflects an overwhelming academic consensus on Biblical authorship, even among scholars who do not subscribe to the Supplementary Hypothesis in particular.[….] According to the Supplementary Hypothesis, Biblical narrative is layered. No editor took a blowtorch to the parts of the Bible he disagreed with and destroyed them; if he had, we would not find these repetitions and contradictions. Instead, Biblical narrative began with a coherent, foundational bedrock, which over time accreted more and more storylines. Unlike geological processes, though, this process of addition was deliberate. What happened if one author disagreed with his predecessor’s storyline or worldview? He did not simply take an axe to the narrative; instead, he attempted to bury his predecessor’s point of view by repeating his own over and over again, thus skewing our understanding of the story in new ways. Every generation of readers sees the world differently, and thus every generation of writers seeks to adapt their predecessors’ cultural heritage to their own situation. We are not meant simply to dismiss earlier stories; rather, the intention of later writers is to transform our understanding of those stories via their additions.

Legend

⬛ The kernel of biblical text upon which all other narratives were laid is thought to have been composed in the mid- to late eighth century BCE toward the end of the heyday of the northern Kingdom of Ephraim (one of the two kingdoms that occupied Biblical Israel). This layer, commonly referred to as ‘E’, is indicated with INDIGO text. The first parashah containing text of this layer was parashat Vayera in Sefer Bereshit.

⬛ The next oldest layer is thought to have been composed in the late 8th or early 7th century BCE in the southern Kingdom of Judah. This layer, commonly known as ‘J’, is indicated with a BLUE text.

⬛ This strata, thought to have been composed during the exilic to early post-exilic period (571–486 BCE) is, as Dr. Yoreh explains, “responsible for supplementing the ‘J’ narrative with dates, names, and numbers, thus ‘ordering’ and authenticating ‘J’s account.” This layer, commonly referred to as ‘P’ (for ‘Priestly’) appears here in GREEN text.

⬛ The next strata popularized Kohanite law for the remnant of Judah after the Temple was destroyed, and functioned as an intermediary between Kohanite lists and laws and the surrounding narrative. This layer, which Dr. Yoreh calls ‘H’ (for the ‘Holiness Code’) appears here in LIME-GREEN text.

⬛ The most recent layer of text, is a post-exilic (pre-3rd century BCE) text that Dr. Yoreh refers to as the “Bridger” which supplements earlier strata with genealogies and popular myths, providing narrative bridges between distant story cycles. This ‘B’ layer is presented here in FUCHSIA.

The kernel of biblical text ‘E,’ its early supplemental layer ‘J’, and its later supplement ‘B,’ are absent from Sefer Vayiqra (Leviticus).

Parashat Aḥarei Mōt (Leviticus 16:1-18:30) in the annual Torah reading cycle, is read on the second shabbat in Nissan during a Jewish leap year, or combined with parashat Qedoshim (Leviticus 19:1-20:26) on the second shabbat of the month of Sivan during a non-leap year. The parashah is preceded by parashat Metsora (Leviticus 14:1-15:33); parashat Qedoshim (Leviticus 19:1-20:26) follows it.

Source (Hebrew) Translation (English)

טז א וַיְדַבֵּ֤ר יְהֹוָה֙ אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֔ה אַחֲרֵ֣י מ֔וֹת שְׁנֵ֖י בְּנֵ֣י אַהֲרֹ֑ן בְּקׇרְבָתָ֥ם לִפְנֵי־יְהֹוָ֖ה וַיָּמֻֽתוּ׃ ב וַיֹּ֨אמֶר יְהֹוָ֜ה אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֗ה דַּבֵּר֮ אֶל־אַהֲרֹ֣ן אָחִ֒יךָ֒ וְאַל־יָבֹ֤א בְכׇל־עֵת֙ אֶל־הַקֹּ֔דֶשׁ מִבֵּ֖ית לַפָּרֹ֑כֶת אֶל־פְּנֵ֨י הַכַּפֹּ֜רֶת אֲשֶׁ֤ר עַל־הָאָרֹן֙ וְלֹ֣א יָמ֔וּת כִּ֚י בֶּֽעָנָ֔ן אֵרָאֶ֖ה עַל־הַכַּפֹּֽרֶת׃ ג בְּזֹ֛את יָבֹ֥א אַהֲרֹ֖ן אֶל־הַקֹּ֑דֶשׁ בְּפַ֧ר בֶּן־בָּקָ֛ר לְחַטָּ֖את וְאַ֥יִל לְעֹלָֽה׃ ד כְּתֹֽנֶת־בַּ֨ד קֹ֜דֶשׁ יִלְבָּ֗שׁ וּמִֽכְנְסֵי־בַד֮ יִהְי֣וּ עַל־בְּשָׂרוֹ֒ וּבְאַבְנֵ֥ט בַּד֙ יַחְגֹּ֔ר וּבְמִצְנֶ֥פֶת בַּ֖ד יִצְנֹ֑ף בִּגְדֵי־קֹ֣דֶשׁ הֵ֔ם וְרָחַ֥ץ בַּמַּ֛יִם אֶת־בְּשָׂר֖וֹ וּלְבֵשָֽׁם׃
16 1 Now YHVH spoke to Mosheh after the death of the two sons of Aharon, when they came-near before the presence of YHVH and died; 2 YHVH said to Mosheh: “Speak to Aharon your brother, (so) that he (does) not enter, at (just) any time, the Holy-shrine, inside the parokhet, facing the kaporet that is on top of the Arōn, that he (does) not die; for in a cloud I make-myself seen, over the kaporet. 3 In this (manner) is Aharon to enter the Holy-shrine: with a bull, a young-one of the herd, for a ḥattat-offering, and a ram for an offering-up. 4 In a holy tunic of linen he is to dress, linen breeches are to be upon his (naked) body, with a sash of linen he is to gird himself, with a turban of linen he is to turban himself; they are garments for the Holy-shrine. When he has washed his body in water, he may dress in them.”

ה וּמֵאֵ֗ת עֲדַת֙ בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל יִקַּ֛ח שְׁנֵֽי־שְׂעִירֵ֥י עִזִּ֖ים לְחַטָּ֑את וְאַ֥יִל אֶחָ֖ד לְעֹלָֽה׃ ו וְהִקְרִ֧יב אַהֲרֹ֛ן אֶת־פַּ֥ר הַחַטָּ֖את אֲשֶׁר־ל֑וֹ וְכִפֶּ֥ר בַּעֲד֖וֹ וּבְעַ֥ד בֵּיתֽוֹ׃ ז וְלָקַ֖ח אֶת־שְׁנֵ֣י הַשְּׂעִירִ֑ם וְהֶעֱמִ֤יד אֹתָם֙ לִפְנֵ֣י יְהֹוָ֔ה פֶּ֖תַח אֹ֥הֶל מוֹעֵֽד׃ ח וְנָתַ֧ן אַהֲרֹ֛ן עַל־שְׁנֵ֥י הַשְּׂעִירִ֖ם גֹּרָל֑וֹת גּוֹרָ֤ל אֶחָד֙ לַיהֹוָ֔ה וְגוֹרָ֥ל אֶחָ֖ד לַעֲזָאזֵֽל׃ ט וְהִקְרִ֤יב אַהֲרֹן֙ אֶת־הַשָּׂעִ֔יר אֲשֶׁ֨ר עָלָ֥ה עָלָ֛יו הַגּוֹרָ֖ל לַיהֹוָ֑ה וְעָשָׂ֖הוּ חַטָּֽאת׃ י וְהַשָּׂעִ֗יר אֲשֶׁר֩ עָלָ֨ה עָלָ֤יו הַגּוֹרָל֙ לַעֲזָאזֵ֔ל יׇֽעֳמַד־חַ֛י לִפְנֵ֥י יְהֹוָ֖ה לְכַפֵּ֣ר עָלָ֑יו לְשַׁלַּ֥ח אֹת֛וֹ לַעֲזָאזֵ֖ל הַמִּדְבָּֽרָה׃
5 “From the community of the Children of Yisrael he is to take two hairy goats for a ḥattat-offering, and one ram for an offering-up. 6 And Aharon is to bring-near the bull for the ḥattat-offering that is his, so that he may effect-atonement on behalf of himself and on behalf of his household. 7 He is to take the two hairy (goats) and is to stand them before the presence of YHVH, at the entrance to the Ohel Mo’ed. 8 Aharon is to place upon the two hairy (goats) lots, one lot for YHVH and one lot for Azazel. 9 Aharon is to bring-near the hairy-one for which the lot for YHVH came up, and is to designate it as a ḥattat-offering; 10 and the hairy-one for which the lot of Azazel came up is to be left standing-alive, before the presence of YHVH, to effect-atonement upon it, to send it away to Azazel into the wilderness.”

יא וְהִקְרִ֨יב אַהֲרֹ֜ן אֶת־פַּ֤ר הַֽחַטָּאת֙ אֲשֶׁר־ל֔וֹ וְכִפֶּ֥ר בַּֽעֲד֖וֹ וּבְעַ֣ד בֵּית֑וֹ וְשָׁחַ֛ט אֶת־פַּ֥ר הַֽחַטָּ֖את אֲשֶׁר־לֽוֹ׃ יב וְלָקַ֣ח מְלֹֽא־הַ֠מַּחְתָּ֠ה גַּֽחֲלֵי־אֵ֞שׁ מֵעַ֤ל הַמִּזְבֵּ֙חַ֙ מִלִּפְנֵ֣י יְהֹוָ֔ה וּמְלֹ֣א חׇפְנָ֔יו קְטֹ֥רֶת סַמִּ֖ים דַּקָּ֑ה וְהֵבִ֖יא מִבֵּ֥ית לַפָּרֹֽכֶת׃ יג וְנָתַ֧ן אֶֽת־הַקְּטֹ֛רֶת עַל־הָאֵ֖שׁ לִפְנֵ֣י יְהֹוָ֑ה וְכִסָּ֣ה ׀ עֲנַ֣ן הַקְּטֹ֗רֶת אֶת־הַכַּפֹּ֛רֶת אֲשֶׁ֥ר עַל־הָעֵד֖וּת וְלֹ֥א יָמֽוּת׃ יד וְלָקַח֙ מִדַּ֣ם הַפָּ֔ר וְהִזָּ֧ה בְאֶצְבָּע֛וֹ עַל־פְּנֵ֥י הַכַּפֹּ֖רֶת קֵ֑דְמָה וְלִפְנֵ֣י הַכַּפֹּ֗רֶת יַזֶּ֧ה שֶֽׁבַע־פְּעָמִ֛ים מִן־הַדָּ֖ם בְּאֶצְבָּעֽוֹ׃
11 “Then Aharon is to bring-near the bull of the ḥattat-offering that is his, effecting-atonement on behalf of himself and on behalf of his household; he is to slay the bull of the ḥattat-offering that is his, 12 and is to take a panful of fiery coals from atop the Mizbe’aḥ, from before the presence of YHVH, and (two) fistfuls of fragrant-incense, finely-ground, and is to bring (it) inside the parokhet. 13 Then he is to place the incense on the fire, before the presence of YHVH, so that the cloud (from) the incense covers the kaporet that is over the Édut/Testimony, so that he does not die. 14 Then he is to take (some) of the blood of the bull and sprinkle (it) with his finger on the front of the kaporet, eastward, and before the kaporet he is to sprinkle, seven times, some of the blood with his finger.”

טו וְשָׁחַ֞ט אֶת־שְׂעִ֤יר הַֽחַטָּאת֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר לָעָ֔ם וְהֵבִיא֙ אֶת־דָּמ֔וֹ אֶל־מִבֵּ֖ית לַפָּרֹ֑כֶת וְעָשָׂ֣ה אֶת־דָּמ֗וֹ כַּאֲשֶׁ֤ר עָשָׂה֙ לְדַ֣ם הַפָּ֔ר וְהִזָּ֥ה אֹת֛וֹ עַל־הַכַּפֹּ֖רֶת וְלִפְנֵ֥י הַכַּפֹּֽרֶת׃ טז וְכִפֶּ֣ר עַל־הַקֹּ֗דֶשׁ מִטֻּמְאֹת֙ בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל וּמִפִּשְׁעֵיהֶ֖ם לְכׇל־חַטֹּאתָ֑ם וְכֵ֤ן יַעֲשֶׂה֙ לְאֹ֣הֶל מוֹעֵ֔ד הַשֹּׁכֵ֣ן אִתָּ֔ם בְּת֖וֹךְ טֻמְאֹתָֽם׃ יז וְכׇל־אָדָ֞ם לֹא־יִהְיֶ֣ה ׀ בְּאֹ֣הֶל מוֹעֵ֗ד בְּבֹא֛וֹ לְכַפֵּ֥ר בַּקֹּ֖דֶשׁ עַד־צֵאת֑וֹ וְכִפֶּ֤ר בַּעֲדוֹ֙ וּבְעַ֣ד בֵּית֔וֹ וּבְעַ֖ד כׇּל־קְהַ֥ל יִשְׂרָאֵֽל׃
15 “Then he is to slay the hairy-goat of the ḥattat-offering that is the people’s, and bring its blood inside the parokhet, doing with its blood as he did with the blood of the bull: he is to sprinkle it on the kaporet, and before the kaporet. 16 So he is to effect-atonement for the Holy-shrine from the tum’ot of the Children of Yisrael, from their transgressions, for all of their sins, and thus he is to do with the Ohel Mo’ed, which dwells with them in the midst of their tum’ot. 17 No human is to be in the Ohel Mo’ed when he enters it to effect-atonement in the Holy-shrine, until he goes out. He is to effect-atonement on behalf of himself and on behalf of his household, and on behalf of the entire assembly of Yisrael.”

שני יח וְיָצָ֗א אֶל־הַמִּזְבֵּ֛חַ אֲשֶׁ֥ר לִפְנֵֽי־יְהֹוָ֖ה וְכִפֶּ֣ר עָלָ֑יו וְלָקַ֞ח מִדַּ֤ם הַפָּר֙ וּמִדַּ֣ם הַשָּׂעִ֔יר וְנָתַ֛ן עַל־קַרְנ֥וֹת הַמִּזְבֵּ֖חַ סָבִֽיב׃ יט וְהִזָּ֨ה עָלָ֧יו מִן־הַדָּ֛ם בְּאֶצְבָּע֖וֹ שֶׁ֣בַע פְּעָמִ֑ים וְטִהֲר֣וֹ וְקִדְּשׁ֔וֹ מִטֻּמְאֹ֖ת בְּנֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵֽל׃
18 “Then he is to go out to the Mizbe’aḥ that is before the presence of YHVH, and effect-atonement on it, he is to take some of the blood of the bull and some of the blood of the hairy-goat and is to place (it) on the horns of the Mizbe’aḥ, all around; 19 he is to sprinkle on it from (the rest of) the blood with his finger seven times; he is to purify it and he is to hallow it from the tum’ot of the Children of Yisrael.”

כ וְכִלָּה֙ מִכַּפֵּ֣ר אֶת־הַקֹּ֔דֶשׁ וְאֶת־אֹ֥הֶל מוֹעֵ֖ד וְאֶת־הַמִּזְבֵּ֑חַ וְהִקְרִ֖יב אֶת־הַשָּׂעִ֥יר הֶחָֽי׃ כא וְסָמַ֨ךְ אַהֲרֹ֜ן אֶת־שְׁתֵּ֣י יָדָ֗ו עַ֣ל רֹ֣אשׁ הַשָּׂעִיר֮ הַחַי֒ וְהִתְוַדָּ֣ה עָלָ֗יו אֶת־כׇּל־עֲוֺנֹת֙ בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל וְאֶת־כׇּל־פִּשְׁעֵיהֶ֖ם לְכׇל־חַטֹּאתָ֑ם וְנָתַ֤ן אֹתָם֙ עַל־רֹ֣אשׁ הַשָּׂעִ֔יר וְשִׁלַּ֛ח בְּיַד־אִ֥ישׁ עִתִּ֖י הַמִּדְבָּֽרָה׃ כב וְנָשָׂ֨א הַשָּׂעִ֥יר עָלָ֛יו אֶת־כׇּל־עֲוֺנֹתָ֖ם אֶל־אֶ֣רֶץ גְּזֵרָ֑ה וְשִׁלַּ֥ח אֶת־הַשָּׂעִ֖יר בַּמִּדְבָּֽר׃
20 “When he has finished purging the Holy-shrine and the Ohel Mo’ed and the Mizbe’aḥ, he is to bring-near the live hairy (goat), 21 Aharon is to lean his two hands on the head of the live hairy (goat) and is to confess over it all the iniquities of the Children of Yisrael, all their transgressions, for all of their sins; he is to place them upon the head of the hairy (goat) and is to send it free by the hand of a man for the occasion, into the wilderness. 22 The hairy (goat) is to bear upon itself all their iniquities, to a land cut off; he is to send-free the hairy (goat) in the wilderness.”

כג וּבָ֤א אַהֲרֹן֙ אֶל־אֹ֣הֶל מוֹעֵ֔ד וּפָשַׁט֙ אֶת־בִּגְדֵ֣י הַבָּ֔ד אֲשֶׁ֥ר לָבַ֖שׁ בְּבֹא֣וֹ אֶל־הַקֹּ֑דֶשׁ וְהִנִּיחָ֖ם שָֽׁם׃ כד וְרָחַ֨ץ אֶת־בְּשָׂר֤וֹ בַמַּ֙יִם֙ בְּמָק֣וֹם קָד֔וֹשׁ וְלָבַ֖שׁ אֶת־בְּגָדָ֑יו וְיָצָ֗א וְעָשָׂ֤ה אֶת־עֹֽלָתוֹ֙ וְאֶת־עֹלַ֣ת הָעָ֔ם וְכִפֶּ֥ר בַּעֲד֖וֹ וּבְעַ֥ד הָעָֽם׃ שלישי (שני) כה וְאֵ֛ת חֵ֥לֶב הַֽחַטָּ֖את יַקְטִ֥יר הַמִּזְבֵּֽחָה׃ כו וְהַֽמְשַׁלֵּ֤חַ אֶת־הַשָּׂעִיר֙ לַֽעֲזָאזֵ֔ל יְכַבֵּ֣ס בְּגָדָ֔יו וְרָחַ֥ץ אֶת־בְּשָׂר֖וֹ בַּמָּ֑יִם וְאַחֲרֵי־כֵ֖ן יָב֥וֹא אֶל־הַֽמַּחֲנֶֽה׃ כז וְאֵת֩ פַּ֨ר הַֽחַטָּ֜את וְאֵ֣ת ׀ שְׂעִ֣יר הַֽחַטָּ֗את אֲשֶׁ֨ר הוּבָ֤א אֶת־דָּמָם֙ לְכַפֵּ֣ר בַּקֹּ֔דֶשׁ יוֹצִ֖יא אֶל־מִח֣וּץ לַֽמַּחֲנֶ֑ה וְשָׂרְפ֣וּ בָאֵ֔שׁ אֶת־עֹרֹתָ֥ם וְאֶת־בְּשָׂרָ֖ם וְאֶת־פִּרְשָֽׁם׃ כח וְהַשֹּׂרֵ֣ף אֹתָ֔ם יְכַבֵּ֣ס בְּגָדָ֔יו וְרָחַ֥ץ אֶת־בְּשָׂר֖וֹ בַּמָּ֑יִם וְאַחֲרֵי־כֵ֖ן יָב֥וֹא אֶל־הַֽמַּחֲנֶֽה׃
23 “Then Aharon is to enter the Ohel Mo’ed and is to strip off his linen garments in which he dressed when he entered the Holy-shrine, and is to leave them there; 24 then he is to wash his flesh in water, in a holy place, and is to dress in his garments, he is to go out and sacrifice his offering-up and the offering-up of the people; so shall he effect-atonement on behalf of himself and on behalf of the people. 25 And the fat of the ḥattat-offering he is to turn-into-smoke upon the Mizbe’aḥ. 26 Now the one who sent free the hairy (goat) for Azazel is to scrub his garments and wash his flesh in water; after that he may reenter the camp. 27 And the bull of ḥattat and the hairy (goat) of ḥattat whose blood was brought in to effect-atonement in the Holy-shrine are to be taken outside the camp, and in fire are to be burned their skins, their flesh, and their dung. 28 And (each) one who burns them is to scrub his garments and wash his flesh in water; after that he may reenter the camp.”

כט וְהָיְתָ֥ה לָכֶ֖ם לְחֻקַּ֣ת עוֹלָ֑ם בַּחֹ֣דֶשׁ הַ֠שְּׁבִיעִ֠י בֶּֽעָשׂ֨וֹר לַחֹ֜דֶשׁ תְּעַנּ֣וּ אֶת־נַפְשֹֽׁתֵיכֶ֗ם וְכׇל־מְלָאכָה֙ לֹ֣א תַעֲשׂ֔וּ הָֽאֶזְרָ֔ח וְהַגֵּ֖ר הַגָּ֥ר בְּתוֹכְכֶֽם׃ ל כִּֽי־בַיּ֥וֹם הַזֶּ֛ה יְכַפֵּ֥ר עֲלֵיכֶ֖ם לְטַהֵ֣ר אֶתְכֶ֑ם מִכֹּל֙ חַטֹּ֣אתֵיכֶ֔ם לִפְנֵ֥י יְהֹוָ֖ה תִּטְהָֽרוּ׃ לא שַׁבַּ֨ת שַׁבָּת֥וֹן הִיא֙ לָכֶ֔ם וְעִנִּיתֶ֖ם אֶת־נַפְשֹׁתֵיכֶ֑ם חֻקַּ֖ת עוֹלָֽם׃ לב וְכִפֶּ֨ר הַכֹּהֵ֜ן אֲשֶׁר־יִמְשַׁ֣ח אֹת֗וֹ וַאֲשֶׁ֤ר יְמַלֵּא֙ אֶת־יָד֔וֹ לְכַהֵ֖ן תַּ֣חַת אָבִ֑יו וְלָבַ֛שׁ אֶת־בִּגְדֵ֥י הַבָּ֖ד בִּגְדֵ֥י הַקֹּֽדֶשׁ׃ לג וְכִפֶּר֙ אֶת־מִקְדַּ֣שׁ הַקֹּ֔דֶשׁ וְאֶת־אֹ֧הֶל מוֹעֵ֛ד וְאֶת־הַמִּזְבֵּ֖חַ יְכַפֵּ֑ר וְעַ֧ל הַכֹּהֲנִ֛ים וְעַל־כׇּל־עַ֥ם הַקָּהָ֖ל יְכַפֵּֽר׃ לד וְהָֽיְתָה־זֹּ֨את לָכֶ֜ם לְחֻקַּ֣ת עוֹלָ֗ם לְכַפֵּ֞ר עַל־בְּנֵ֤י יִשְׂרָאֵל֙ מִכׇּל־חַטֹּאתָ֔ם אַחַ֖ת בַּשָּׁנָ֑ה וַיַּ֕עַשׂ כַּאֲשֶׁ֛ר צִוָּ֥ה יְהֹוָ֖ה אֶת־מֹשֶֽׁה׃
29 And it shall be for you a law for the ages: in the seventh New-moon, on the tenth after the New-moon you are to afflict your selves; any-kind of work you are not to do — (both) the native and the sojourner that sojourns in your midst. 30 For on this day atonement is to be effected for you, to purify you from all your sins; before the presence of YHVH, you will become-pure. 31 It is a Shabbat of Shabbat-ceasing for you, you are to afflict your selves, a law for the ages. 32 The Kohen shall effect-atonement who has been anointed and whose hand has been filled to act-as-Kohen in place of his father. He is to dress in garments of linen, garments of the Holy-area; 33 he is to effect-atonement for the Holiest of Holy-shrines, for the Ohel Mo’ed and the Mizbe’aḥ he is to effect-atonement, and for the kohanim and for all the people of the assembly he is to effect-atonement. 34 This shall be for you a law for the ages, to effect-atonement for the Children of Yisrael from all their sins, once a year.” And he did as YHVH commanded Mosheh.

רביעי יז א וַיְדַבֵּ֥ר יְהֹוָ֖ה אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֥ה לֵּאמֹֽר׃ ב דַּבֵּ֨ר אֶֽל־אַהֲרֹ֜ן וְאֶל־בָּנָ֗יו וְאֶל֙ כׇּל־בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל וְאָמַרְתָּ֖ אֲלֵיהֶ֑ם זֶ֣ה הַדָּבָ֔ר אֲשֶׁר־צִוָּ֥ה יְהֹוָ֖ה לֵאמֹֽר׃ ג אִ֥ישׁ אִישׁ֙ מִבֵּ֣ית יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל אֲשֶׁ֨ר יִשְׁחַ֜ט שׁ֥וֹר אוֹ־כֶ֛שֶׂב אוֹ־עֵ֖ז בַּֽמַּחֲנֶ֑ה א֚וֹ אֲשֶׁ֣ר יִשְׁחַ֔ט מִח֖וּץ לַֽמַּחֲנֶֽה׃ ד וְאֶל־פֶּ֜תַח אֹ֣הֶל מוֹעֵד֮ לֹ֣א הֱבִיאוֹ֒ לְהַקְרִ֤יב קׇרְבָּן֙ לַֽיהֹוָ֔ה לִפְנֵ֖י מִשְׁכַּ֣ן יְהֹוָ֑ה דָּ֣ם יֵחָשֵׁ֞ב לָאִ֤ישׁ הַהוּא֙ דָּ֣ם שָׁפָ֔ךְ וְנִכְרַ֛ת הָאִ֥ישׁ הַה֖וּא מִקֶּ֥רֶב עַמּֽוֹ׃ ה לְמַ֩עַן֩ אֲשֶׁ֨ר יָבִ֜יאוּ בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֗ל אֶֽת־זִבְחֵיהֶם֮ אֲשֶׁ֣ר הֵ֣ם זֹבְחִים֮ עַל־פְּנֵ֣י הַשָּׂדֶה֒ וֶֽהֱבִיאֻ֣ם לַֽיהֹוָ֗ה אֶל־פֶּ֛תַח אֹ֥הֶל מוֹעֵ֖ד אֶל־הַכֹּהֵ֑ן וְזָ֨בְח֜וּ זִבְחֵ֧י שְׁלָמִ֛ים לַֽיהֹוָ֖ה אוֹתָֽם׃ ו וְזָרַ֨ק הַכֹּהֵ֤ן אֶת־הַדָּם֙ עַל־מִזְבַּ֣ח יְהֹוָ֔ה פֶּ֖תַח אֹ֣הֶל מוֹעֵ֑ד וְהִקְטִ֣יר הַחֵ֔לֶב לְרֵ֥יחַ נִיחֹ֖חַ לַיהֹוָֽה׃ ז וְלֹא־יִזְבְּח֥וּ עוֹד֙ אֶת־זִבְחֵיהֶ֔ם לַשְּׂעִירִ֕ם אֲשֶׁ֛ר הֵ֥ם זֹנִ֖ים אַחֲרֵיהֶ֑ם חֻקַּ֥ת עוֹלָ֛ם תִּֽהְיֶה־זֹּ֥את לָהֶ֖ם לְדֹרֹתָֽם׃ חמישי (שלישי) ח וַאֲלֵהֶ֣ם תֹּאמַ֔ר אִ֥ישׁ אִישׁ֙ מִבֵּ֣ית יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל וּמִן־הַגֵּ֖ר אֲשֶׁר־יָג֣וּר בְּתוֹכָ֑ם אֲשֶׁר־יַעֲלֶ֥ה עֹלָ֖ה אוֹ־זָֽבַח׃ ט וְאֶל־פֶּ֜תַח אֹ֤הֶל מוֹעֵד֙ לֹ֣א יְבִיאֶ֔נּוּ לַעֲשׂ֥וֹת אֹת֖וֹ לַיהֹוָ֑ה וְנִכְרַ֛ת הָאִ֥ישׁ הַה֖וּא מֵעַמָּֽיו׃
17 1 YHVH spoke to Mosheh, saying: 2 “Speak to Aharon and to his sons and to all the Children of Yisrael, and say to them: ‘This is the word that YHVH has commanded, saying: 3 Any-man, any-man of the House of Yisrael who slays an ox or a sheep or a goat in the camp or who slays (it) outside the camp, 4 and to the entrance of the Ohel Mo’ed does not bring it, to bring-it-near as a near-offering to YHVH before the Mishkan/Dwelling of YHVH: bloodguilt is to be reckoned to that man, blood has he shed, that man is to be cut off from amid his kinspeople — 5 in order that the Children of Yisrael may bring their slaughter-offerings that they are slaughtering in the open field, that they may bring them to YHVH, to the entrance of the Ohel Mo’ed, to the Kohen, and slaughter them as slaughter-offerings of shalom to YHVH. 6 The Kohen is to dash their blood against the Mizbe’aḥ of YHVH, at the entrance of the Ohel Mo’ed, and is to turn the fat into smoke as a soothing savor to YHVH — 7 that they may slaughter no longer their slaughter-offerings to the hairy (goat-demons) after whom they go whoring. A law for the ages shall this be for them, throughout their generations.’ 8 And to them you are (also) to say: ‘Any-man, any-man of the House of Yisrael or of the sojourners that sojourn in their midst who offers-up an offering-up or a slaughter-offering 9 and to the Ohel Mo’ed does not bring it, to perform-as-sacrifice to YHVH: cut off shall that man be from his kinspeople!'”

י וְאִ֨ישׁ אִ֜ישׁ מִבֵּ֣ית יִשְׂרָאֵ֗ל וּמִן־הַגֵּר֙ הַגָּ֣ר בְּתוֹכָ֔ם אֲשֶׁ֥ר יֹאכַ֖ל כׇּל־דָּ֑ם וְנָתַתִּ֣י פָנַ֗י בַּנֶּ֙פֶשׁ֙ הָאֹכֶ֣לֶת אֶת־הַדָּ֔ם וְהִכְרַתִּ֥י אֹתָ֖הּ מִקֶּ֥רֶב עַמָּֽהּ׃ יא כִּ֣י נֶ֣פֶשׁ הַבָּשָׂר֮ בַּדָּ֣ם הִוא֒ וַאֲנִ֞י נְתַתִּ֤יו לָכֶם֙ עַל־הַמִּזְבֵּ֔חַ לְכַפֵּ֖ר עַל־נַפְשֹׁתֵיכֶ֑ם כִּֽי־הַדָּ֥ם ה֖וּא בַּנֶּ֥פֶשׁ יְכַפֵּֽר׃ יב עַל־כֵּ֤ן אָמַ֙רְתִּי֙ לִבְנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל כׇּל־נֶ֥פֶשׁ מִכֶּ֖ם לֹא־תֹ֣אכַל דָּ֑ם וְהַגֵּ֛ר הַגָּ֥ר בְּתוֹכְכֶ֖ם לֹא־יֹ֥אכַל דָּֽם׃
10 “And any-man, any-man of the House of Yisrael or of the sojourners that sojourn in their midst that eats any blood: I set my face against the person who eats the blood; I will cut him off from amid his kinspeople! 11 For the life of the flesh — it is in the blood; I (myself) have given it to you upon the Mizbe’aḥ, to effect-ransom for your lives, for the blood — it effects-ransom for life! 12 Therefore I say to the Children of Yisrael: ‘Every person among you is not to eat blood, and the sojourner that sojourns in your midst is not to eat blood.'”

יג וְאִ֨ישׁ אִ֜ישׁ מִבְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֗ל וּמִן־הַגֵּר֙ הַגָּ֣ר בְּתוֹכָ֔ם אֲשֶׁ֨ר יָצ֜וּד צֵ֥יד חַיָּ֛ה אוֹ־ע֖וֹף אֲשֶׁ֣ר יֵאָכֵ֑ל וְשָׁפַךְ֙ אֶת־דָּמ֔וֹ וְכִסָּ֖הוּ בֶּעָפָֽר׃ יד כִּֽי־נֶ֣פֶשׁ כׇּל־בָּשָׂ֗ר דָּמ֣וֹ בְנַפְשׁוֹ֮ הוּא֒ וָֽאֹמַר֙ לִבְנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל דַּ֥ם כׇּל־בָּשָׂ֖ר לֹ֣א תֹאכֵ֑לוּ כִּ֣י נֶ֤פֶשׁ כׇּל־בָּשָׂר֙ דָּמ֣וֹ הִ֔וא כׇּל־אֹכְלָ֖יו יִכָּרֵֽת׃
13 “And any-man, any-man of the Children of Yisrael or of the sojourner that sojourns in your midst who hunts any hunted wild-animal or a bird that may be eaten is to pour out its blood and cover it with the dust. 14 For the life of all flesh — its blood is its life! So I say to the Children of Yisrael: ‘The blood of all flesh you are not to eat, for the life of all flesh — it is its blood, everyone eating it shall be cut off!'”

טו וְכׇל־נֶ֗פֶשׁ אֲשֶׁ֨ר תֹּאכַ֤ל נְבֵלָה֙ וּטְרֵפָ֔ה בָּאֶזְרָ֖ח וּבַגֵּ֑ר וְכִבֶּ֨ס בְּגָדָ֜יו וְרָחַ֥ץ בַּמַּ֛יִם וְטָמֵ֥א עַד־הָעֶ֖רֶב וְטָהֵֽר׃ טז וְאִם֙ לֹ֣א יְכַבֵּ֔ס וּבְשָׂר֖וֹ לֹ֣א יִרְחָ֑ץ וְנָשָׂ֖א עֲוֺנֽוֹ׃
15 “And any person that eats a carcass, or an animal-torn-to-pieces, among the native-born or among the sojourners, when he scrubs his garments and washes in water, and remains-tamei until sunset — then he is pure. 16 But if he does not scrub (them), and his flesh he does not wash, he continues-to-bear his iniquity!”

יח א וַיְדַבֵּ֥ר יְהֹוָ֖ה אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֥ה לֵּאמֹֽר׃ ב דַּבֵּר֙ אֶל־בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל וְאָמַרְתָּ֖ אֲלֵהֶ֑ם אֲנִ֖י יְהֹוָ֥ה אֱלֹהֵיכֶֽם׃ ג כְּמַעֲשֵׂ֧ה אֶֽרֶץ־מִצְרַ֛יִם אֲשֶׁ֥ר יְשַׁבְתֶּם־בָּ֖הּ לֹ֣א תַעֲשׂ֑וּ וּכְמַעֲשֵׂ֣ה אֶֽרֶץ־כְּנַ֡עַן אֲשֶׁ֣ר אֲנִי֩ מֵבִ֨יא אֶתְכֶ֥ם שָׁ֙מָּה֙ לֹ֣א תַעֲשׂ֔וּ וּבְחֻקֹּתֵיהֶ֖ם לֹ֥א תֵלֵֽכוּ׃ ד אֶת־מִשְׁפָּטַ֧י תַּעֲשׂ֛וּ וְאֶת־חֻקֹּתַ֥י תִּשְׁמְר֖וּ לָלֶ֣כֶת בָּהֶ֑ם אֲנִ֖י יְהֹוָ֥ה אֱלֹהֵיכֶֽם׃ ה וּשְׁמַרְתֶּ֤ם אֶת־חֻקֹּתַי֙ וְאֶת־מִשְׁפָּטַ֔י אֲשֶׁ֨ר יַעֲשֶׂ֥ה אֹתָ֛ם הָאָדָ֖ם וָחַ֣י בָּהֶ֑ם אֲנִ֖י יְהֹוָֽה׃
18 1 YHVH spoke to Mosheh, saying: 2 “Speak to the Children of Yisrael and say to them: ‘I am YHVH your elo’ah! 3 What is done in the land of Mitsrayim, wherein you were settled, you are not to do; what is done in the land of K’naan, to which I am bringing you, you are not to do; by their laws you are not to walk. 4 My regulations you are to do, my laws you are to keep, walking by them, I am YHVH your elo’ah! 5 You are to keep my laws and my regulations, which when a human does them, he lives by (means of) them, I am YHVH!'”

ששי ו אִ֥ישׁ אִישׁ֙ אֶל־כׇּל־שְׁאֵ֣ר בְּשָׂר֔וֹ לֹ֥א תִקְרְב֖וּ לְגַלּ֣וֹת עֶרְוָ֑ה אֲנִ֖י יְהֹוָֽה׃
6 “Any-man, any-man-to any kin of one’s (own) flesh you are not to come-near, exposing their ‘nakedness’! I am YHVH!”

ז עֶרְוַ֥ת אָבִ֛יךָ וְעֶרְוַ֥ת אִמְּךָ֖ לֹ֣א תְגַלֵּ֑ה אִמְּךָ֣ הִ֔וא לֹ֥א תְגַלֶּ֖ה עֶרְוָתָֽהּ׃
7 “The nakedness of your father, and the nakedness of your mother, you are not to expose! She is your mother — you are not to expose her nakedness!”

ח עֶרְוַ֥ת אֵֽשֶׁת־אָבִ֖יךָ לֹ֣א תְגַלֵּ֑ה עֶרְוַ֥ת אָבִ֖יךָ הִֽוא׃
8 “The nakedness of your father’s wife, you are not to expose! She is the nakedness of your father.”

ט עֶרְוַ֨ת אֲחֽוֹתְךָ֤ בַת־אָבִ֙יךָ֙ א֣וֹ בַת־אִמֶּ֔ךָ מוֹלֶ֣דֶת בַּ֔יִת א֖וֹ מוֹלֶ֣דֶת ח֑וּץ לֹ֥א תְגַלֶּ֖ה עֶרְוָתָֽן׃
9 “The nakedness of your sister, the daughter of your father or the daughter of your mother, born in the house or born outside — you are not to expose their nakedness!”

י עֶרְוַ֤ת בַּת־בִּנְךָ֙ א֣וֹ בַֽת־בִּתְּךָ֔ לֹ֥א תְגַלֶּ֖ה עֶרְוָתָ֑ן כִּ֥י עֶרְוָתְךָ֖ הֵֽנָּה׃
10 “The nakedness of your son’s daughter or of your daughter’s daughter, you are not to expose their nakedness! Indeed, they are your nakedness.”

יא עֶרְוַ֨ת בַּת־אֵ֤שֶׁת אָבִ֙יךָ֙ מוֹלֶ֣דֶת אָבִ֔יךָ אֲחוֹתְךָ֖ הִ֑וא לֹ֥א תְגַלֶּ֖ה עֶרְוָתָֽהּ׃
11 “The nakedness of the daughter of your father’s wife, (as one) born to your father — she is your sister. You are not to expose her nakedness!”

יב עֶרְוַ֥ת אֲחוֹת־אָבִ֖יךָ לֹ֣א תְגַלֵּ֑ה שְׁאֵ֥ר אָבִ֖יךָ הִֽוא׃
12 “The nakedness of your father’s sister, you are not to expose! She is the kin of your father.”

יג עֶרְוַ֥ת אֲחֽוֹת־אִמְּךָ֖ לֹ֣א תְגַלֵּ֑ה כִּֽי־שְׁאֵ֥ר אִמְּךָ֖ הִֽוא׃
13 “The nakedness of your mother’s sister, you are not to expose! Indeed, she is the kin of your mother.”

יד עֶרְוַ֥ת אֲחִֽי־אָבִ֖יךָ לֹ֣א תְגַלֵּ֑ה אֶל־אִשְׁתּוֹ֙ לֹ֣א תִקְרָ֔ב דֹּדָֽתְךָ֖ הִֽוא׃
14 “The nakedness of your father’s brother, you are not to expose! To his wife you are not to come-near — she is your aunt!”

טו עֶרְוַ֥ת כַּלָּֽתְךָ֖ לֹ֣א תְגַלֵּ֑ה אֵ֤שֶׁת בִּנְךָ֙ הִ֔וא לֹ֥א תְגַלֶּ֖ה עֶרְוָתָֽהּ׃
15 “The nakedness of your daughter-in-law, you are not to expose! She is your son’s wife. You are not to expose her nakedness!”

טז עֶרְוַ֥ת אֵֽשֶׁת־אָחִ֖יךָ לֹ֣א תְגַלֵּ֑ה עֶרְוַ֥ת אָחִ֖יךָ הִֽוא׃
16 “The nakedness of your brother’s wife, you are not to expose! She is the nakedness of your brother.”

יז עֶרְוַ֥ת אִשָּׁ֛ה וּבִתָּ֖הּ לֹ֣א תְגַלֵּ֑ה אֶֽת־בַּת־בְּנָ֞הּ וְאֶת־בַּת־בִּתָּ֗הּ לֹ֤א תִקַּח֙ לְגַלּ֣וֹת עֶרְוָתָ֔הּ שַׁאֲרָ֥ה הֵ֖נָּה זִמָּ֥ה הִֽוא׃ יח וְאִשָּׁ֥ה אֶל־אֲחֹתָ֖הּ לֹ֣א תִקָּ֑ח לִצְרֹ֗ר לְגַלּ֧וֹת עֶרְוָתָ֛הּ עָלֶ֖יהָ בְּחַיֶּֽיהָ׃ יט וְאֶל־אִשָּׁ֖ה בְּנִדַּ֣ת טֻמְאָתָ֑הּ לֹ֣א תִקְרַ֔ב לְגַלּ֖וֹת עֶרְוָתָֽהּ׃ כ וְאֶל־אֵ֙שֶׁת֙ עֲמִֽיתְךָ֔ לֹא־תִתֵּ֥ן שְׁכׇבְתְּךָ֖ לְזָ֑רַע לְטׇמְאָה־בָֽהּ׃ כא וּמִֽזַּרְעֲךָ֥ לֹא־תִתֵּ֖ן לְהַעֲבִ֣יר לַמֹּ֑לֶךְ וְלֹ֧א תְחַלֵּ֛ל אֶת־שֵׁ֥ם אֱלֹהֶ֖יךָ אֲנִ֥י יְהֹוָֽה׃
17 “The nakedness of a woman and her daughter (together), you are not to expose! Her son’s daughter or her daughter’s daughter you are not to take-in-marriage, exposing their nakedness! They are kin, it is insidiousness! 18 And a woman along with her sister, you are not to take-in-marriage, producing-rivalry, exposing her nakedness in addition to her, during her lifetime! 19 To a woman during her tum’a of being-apart you are not to come-near, exposing her nakedness! 20 To the wife of your fellow you are not to give your emission of seed, becoming-tamei through her! 21 Your seed-offspring you are not to give-over for bringing-across to the Molekh, that you not profane the name of your elo’ah, I am YHVH!”

שביעי (רביעי) כב וְאֶ֨ת־זָכָ֔ר לֹ֥א תִשְׁכַּ֖ב מִשְׁכְּבֵ֣י אִשָּׁ֑ה תּוֹעֵבָ֖ה הִֽוא׃ כג וּבְכׇל־בְּהֵמָ֛ה לֹא־תִתֵּ֥ן שְׁכׇבְתְּךָ֖ לְטׇמְאָה־בָ֑הּ וְאִשָּׁ֗ה לֹֽא־תַעֲמֹ֞ד לִפְנֵ֧י בְהֵמָ֛ה לְרִבְעָ֖הּ תֶּ֥בֶל הֽוּא׃ כד אַל־תִּֽטַּמְּא֖וּ בְּכׇל־אֵ֑לֶּה כִּ֤י בְכׇל־אֵ֙לֶּה֙ נִטְמְא֣וּ הַגּוֹיִ֔ם אֲשֶׁר־אֲנִ֥י מְשַׁלֵּ֖חַ מִפְּנֵיכֶֽם׃ כה וַתִּטְמָ֣א הָאָ֔רֶץ וָאֶפְקֹ֥ד עֲוֺנָ֖הּ עָלֶ֑יהָ וַתָּקִ֥א הָאָ֖רֶץ אֶת־יֹשְׁבֶֽיהָ׃ כו וּשְׁמַרְתֶּ֣ם אַתֶּ֗ם אֶת־חֻקֹּתַי֙ וְאֶת־מִשְׁפָּטַ֔י וְלֹ֣א תַעֲשׂ֔וּ מִכֹּ֥ל הַתּוֹעֵבֹ֖ת הָאֵ֑לֶּה הָֽאֶזְרָ֔ח וְהַגֵּ֖ר הַגָּ֥ר בְּתוֹכְכֶֽם׃ כז כִּ֚י אֶת־כׇּל־הַתּוֹעֵבֹ֣ת הָאֵ֔ל עָשׂ֥וּ אַנְשֵֽׁי־הָאָ֖רֶץ אֲשֶׁ֣ר לִפְנֵיכֶ֑ם וַתִּטְמָ֖א הָאָֽרֶץ׃ מפטיר כח וְלֹֽא־תָקִ֤יא הָאָ֙רֶץ֙ אֶתְכֶ֔ם בְּטַֽמַּאֲכֶ֖ם אֹתָ֑הּ כַּאֲשֶׁ֥ר קָאָ֛ה אֶת־הַגּ֖וֹי אֲשֶׁ֥ר לִפְנֵיכֶֽם׃ כט כִּ֚י כׇּל־אֲשֶׁ֣ר יַעֲשֶׂ֔ה מִכֹּ֥ל הַתּוֹעֵבֹ֖ת הָאֵ֑לֶּה וְנִכְרְת֛וּ הַנְּפָשׁ֥וֹת הָעֹשֹׂ֖ת מִקֶּ֥רֶב עַמָּֽם׃ ל וּשְׁמַרְתֶּ֣ם אֶת־מִשְׁמַרְתִּ֗י לְבִלְתִּ֨י עֲשׂ֜וֹת מֵחֻקּ֤וֹת הַתּֽוֹעֵבֹת֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר נַעֲשׂ֣וּ לִפְנֵיכֶ֔ם וְלֹ֥א תִֽטַּמְּא֖וּ בָּהֶ֑ם אֲנִ֖י יְהֹוָ֥ה אֱלֹהֵיכֶֽם׃
22 “With a male you are not to lie (after the manner of) lying with a woman, it is an abomination![1]Rabbi Dr. David Frankel summarizes Rabbi Steven Greenberg’s position in Wrestling with God and Men: Homosexuality in the Jewish Tradition (Madison Wisc.: University of Wisconsin Press, 2004), p. 205-206, as follows: “Violence or Degradation: Rabbi Steven Greenberg interprets the biblical prohibition of Leviticus 18:22 as concerned basically with the active partner. The phrase ‘lyings of a woman’ is taken as a reference to sex as an expression of ‘humiliation and violence.’ Following this, Rabbi Greenberg suggests that the verse considers it an abomination for a man to have sex with another man only when it is ‘for the perverse pleasure of demeaning another man'” (thetorah.com 2017-05-03). For a different but related approach see the subsection, “Ancient Constructions of Homosexuality” in Dr. Shawna Dolansky’s “Regarding Azazel and Homosexuals in the Same Parasha” (2015-04-28, thetorah.com): “In short, in ancient Near Eastern society, penetration of an equal or superior status male by another male was considered offensive (to’ebah) because it was understood to lower the man’s status. In the ideal of Israel put forth by the author(s) of Leviticus 18 and 20, because all men in the community were understood to have the same status before God, the prohibition was extended to include the penetration of any male by another male. The point of the law, however, was not about sexual practices, but about respecting the dignity and equal rights of one’s fellow citizens.” In the context of sacred prostitution, see “What Does Deuteronomy Say about Homosexuality?” by Dr. Hacham Isaac Sassoon (thetorah.com 2017-08-30). In the context of Hittite incest laws, see Dr. Idan Dershowitz’s article “How the Prohibition of Male Homosexual Intercourse Altered the Laws of Incest” (thetorah.com 2018-04-25). My own opinion is that all of these commands be read in the context of an anti-predatory regime to which the developing model of depravity in the mythological generation of the Flood (the Dor haMabul) served as the counterexample of human (and ultimately Natural) activity on Earth. This specific command in Leviticus 18:22 refers to rapacious sexual activity without consent, in other words, rape (as with the following verse in Leviticus 18:23 concerning the sexual exploitation of non-human animals). For more on this approach, see my source text guide in “The Mythic Arc of Predatory Desire in Jewish Legend: primary sources on the origin and end of predation.” –Aharon Varady 23 With any animal you are not to give your emission of seed, becoming-tamei through it; a woman is not to stand before an animal, mating with it, it is perversion! 24 You are not to make-yourselves-tamei through any of these, for through all these, they make-themselves-tamei, the nations that I am sending out before you. 25 Thus the land became-tamei, and I called it to account for its iniquity, so that the land vomited out its inhabitants. 26 But you are to keep, yourselves, my laws and my regulations, not doing any of these abominations, the native and the sojourner that sojourns in your midst, 27 for all these abominations did the men of the land do that were before you, and the land became-tamei — 28 that the land not vomit you out for your making it tamei as it vomited out the nation that was before you. 29 For whoever does any of these abominable-things — cut off shall be those persons that do (them) from amid their kinspeople! 30 You are to keep my charge by not doing (any of) the abominable practices that were done before you, that you not become-tamei through them, I am YHVH your elo’ah!”

The Masoretic text presented here is from Rabbi Dr. Seth (Avi) Kadish’s Miqra al pi ha-Mesorah. For the translation in English, I have adapted the translation of Everett Fox in the Schocken Bible (1997), mostly to re-Hebraize divine names, place names, names for specific sacred objects and titles, and personal names. Instead of Fox’s use of “purgation” for כפר (kpr), I offer “atonement.” Aside from these, I have made minor punctuation changes. –Aharon N. Varady

Notes   [ + ]

  1. Rabbi Dr. David Frankel summarizes Rabbi Steven Greenberg’s position in Wrestling with God and Men: Homosexuality in the Jewish Tradition (Madison Wisc.: University of Wisconsin Press, 2004), p. 205-206, as follows: “Violence or Degradation: Rabbi Steven Greenberg interprets the biblical prohibition of Leviticus 18:22 as concerned basically with the active partner. The phrase ‘lyings of a woman’ is taken as a reference to sex as an expression of ‘humiliation and violence.’ Following this, Rabbi Greenberg suggests that the verse considers it an abomination for a man to have sex with another man only when it is ‘for the perverse pleasure of demeaning another man'” (thetorah.com 2017-05-03). For a different but related approach see the subsection, “Ancient Constructions of Homosexuality” in Dr. Shawna Dolansky’s “Regarding Azazel and Homosexuals in the Same Parasha” (2015-04-28, thetorah.com): “In short, in ancient Near Eastern society, penetration of an equal or superior status male by another male was considered offensive (to’ebah) because it was understood to lower the man’s status. In the ideal of Israel put forth by the author(s) of Leviticus 18 and 20, because all men in the community were understood to have the same status before God, the prohibition was extended to include the penetration of any male by another male. The point of the law, however, was not about sexual practices, but about respecting the dignity and equal rights of one’s fellow citizens.” In the context of sacred prostitution, see “What Does Deuteronomy Say about Homosexuality?” by Dr. Hacham Isaac Sassoon (thetorah.com 2017-08-30). In the context of Hittite incest laws, see Dr. Idan Dershowitz’s article “How the Prohibition of Male Homosexual Intercourse Altered the Laws of Incest” (thetorah.com 2018-04-25). My own opinion is that all of these commands be read in the context of an anti-predatory regime to which the developing model of depravity in the mythological generation of the Flood (the Dor haMabul) served as the counterexample of human (and ultimately Natural) activity on Earth. This specific command in Leviticus 18:22 refers to rapacious sexual activity without consent, in other words, rape (as with the following verse in Leviticus 18:23 concerning the sexual exploitation of non-human animals). For more on this approach, see my source text guide in “The Mythic Arc of Predatory Desire in Jewish Legend: primary sources on the origin and end of predation.” –Aharon Varady

Comments, Corrections, and Queries


בסיעתא דארעא