Month: April 2018

The Chosen Place is not Jerusalem

The Chosen Place is not Jerusalem

According to Judaism there is only one place where offerings to YHWH can be made–the temple in Jerusalem. Without it, Jews are not authorized to bring offerings at all. This understanding comes from the book of Deuteronomy, which over 20 times mentions a “chosen place” as the only location for offerings and pilgrimage feasts.

Surprisingly, an objective read of Deuteronomy itself, paired with ancient manuscript evidence, verses from the Song of the Sea in Exodus, history recorded by Josephus, and confirmation from the Judaean book of Joshua and other passages in the Tanakh, shows the chosen place is NOT Jerusalem! It’s startlingly simple to confirm, but difficult to see because most of us have simply never had reason to question Jerusalem as the chosen place.

Rather than argue this position from the Samaritan Torah, I will use primarily the Masoretic Text (MT) with occasional counterbalance from scholarship, the Samaritan Torah or other ancient manuscripts. The MT, from which most English bibles today are translated, is a Judaean version of the Hebrew scriptures compiled by the Masoretes between the 7th and 11th centuries CE, using manuscripts that were available at that time. The Masoretes sought to preserve not only the scriptures, but the vowel pointings (the Hebrew language has no written vowels), cantillation and annotations indicating variant readings, given that the Masoretes understood they were working with texts that had already been corrupted (see Errors in the Masoretes’ “Original” Hebrew Manuscripts of the Bible).

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