Levitikus 22

Goodfriend, Elaine Adler, Leviticus 22:24. A Prohibition of Gelding for the Land of Israel?, in: Gane, Roy E.; Taggar-Cohen, Ada (ed.), Current Issues in Priestly and Related Literature. The Legacy of Jacob Milgrom and Beyond (Resources for Biblical Study 82), Atlanta 2015, 67–92.

Abstract »

Abstract from OTA: The goal of G.’s work is to reevaluate the traditional interpretation of Lev 22:24b according to which the clause prohibits the gelding of domesticated animals in the Land of Israel. Most modern commentaries and translations view the words “and in your land you shall not do” in the clause as a reiteration of v. 24a, such that gelding is only prohibited for animals intended for the altar. This limitation allows for the use of oxen for plowing and traction, a remarkably utilitarian benefit for the ancient Israelite farmer, and indeed all premodern farmers. However, the weight of the evidence adduced by G. supports the traditional understanding of the verse, an understanding which would place the Israelite farmer at a disadvantage, given that on this understanding far fewer suitable animals would have been available for his use. Various strategies may have been utilized to deal with the problem posed by the prohibition as so understood, including a large-scale use of cows for traction, but also the importation of oxen. The restriction of Lev 22:24b would, for its part, have been motivated by the life-affirming ethos of Israel’s laws, an aspect of Scripture amply illuminated by the work of Jacob Milgrom. [Adapted from published abstract—C.T.B.]

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