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date: 13 November 2019

Abstract and Keywords

The juncture of time, place, and performance was the gestation arena of the development of Israelite ritual and theology. The discussion in this chapter will therefore begin with an elucidation of distinct times and then proceed to examine the sacrificial system. The holy days include the Sabbath, pentateuchal festivals, New Moon, Purim, and miscellaneous festivals mentioned in passing. Each is explored with reference to its name, origins, and rituals. Passover is highlighted as the origin of national festivals and institutional sacrifice. Its mythic narrative as the formation point for the nation of Israel thus preserves an obscure historical truth. The sacrificial system is then presented through its pre-institutional origins, its development in the Covenant Code and Deuteronomy, and its standardization in the priestly writings. Major issues discussed include the centralization of the cult and the issue of profane slaughter, the principal types of sacrifice, and the manifold function of the cultic system in Israelite worship. Both the holy days and the sacrifices are analyzed, with broad reference to scholarly debate, for their theological, social, and legal aspects, concluding with their joint significance for Israelite religion. They bestowed relevance for every major event in the individual Israelite’s life, on joyous and distressful occasions alike, in a unified experience of mediation between the individual and the deity, as well as solidification of relationships between individual and community.

Keywords: Sabbath, festivals, Passover, sacrifice, temple, pilgrimage, religious institutions, priesthood, atonement, seasons

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