You are on page 1of 24



Vtus Testamentum

Vtus Testamentum 57 (2007) 295-317

www bnll nl/vt

Why Is The Song of Moses in the Book of Deuteronomy?

Mark Leuchter Newton, USA

Abstract Determining the compositional origins of The Song of Moses has long proved to be a difficult task, with some scholars favoring an early (pre-8th century) date and others looking to a date in the Josianic period or later. New light may be shed on this problem by asking not when the Song was composed but by determining its function within the Book of Deuteronomy. In order to do this, a date of the Song's redaction into Deuteronomy must be established. The present study suggests that this redaction is best seen as occurring during the reign of Josiah, bestowing upon the Song a hermeneutical purpose via its place in the overall structure of the Josianic edition of Deuteronomy. Viewed from this perspective, the Song can be seen as contributing to the northern Levitical interests of the Deuteronomists and serving propagandistic aims in relation to Josiahs ambitions in the north. These observations are suggestive of the Song's compositional origins among northern Lvites in the early days of the monarchic period. Keywords Deuteronomy, Lvites, Jeremiah, Song of Moses

I. The Song of Moses and Current Scholarly Impasses The Song of Moses (Deut. xxxii 1-43; henceforth, "The Song") defies any easy attempt at categorization. Alternately viewed as a wisdom meditation, a covenant lawsuit, and a liturgy, most scholars who have examined the poem have come to little consensus concerning its origins.1 The point of departure for modern research into The Song is the encyclopedic investigation by Sanders, who concluded that the poem contains northern Israelite

' For an overview of scholarship, see P. Sanders, The Provenance of Deuteronomy 32 (Leiden, 1996), pp. 1-98.
DOI: 10 1163/1568533307X215518

Koninkhjke Brill NV, Leiden, 2007


M. Leuchter / Vtus Testamentum 57 (2007)


terminology and should be assigned a pre-exilic date.2 This, however, still leaves a rather wide range of possibilities. On linguistic grounds, Robertson and Nigosian favor dating Deut. xxxii to a "transitional period" when a writer would have deployed both early and standard Hebrew morphemes and syntax; for Robertson, this would have taken place during the DavidicSolomonic period,3 while Nigosian suggests a more general 1 Oth through 8th century background.4 On the other side of the spectrum, Smith views the poem as a later archaizing Deuteronomistic composition,5 and a recent paper by Ho argues for a similar compositional background in the reign of Josiah.6 While the ascription of The Song to Deuteronomistic authors would account for its northern terminologythe Deuteronomists were intensely interested in northern traditionit would not account for the admixture of early and standard Hebrew linguistic forms. Late poems that only emulate archaic styles of composition evidence a distribution of archaizing linguistic features that do not appear in The Song. Thiessens recent article on The Song offers an attractive explanation for the mixture of linguistic features, namely, that The Song is indeed a fairly early composition but was performed regularly as a liturgy over successive generations, with standard Hebrew forms permeating the transmission history of the text over time.8 Nevertheless, Thiessen himself cautions against attempting to ascertain a specific date for the poem's origin. While his discussion of the poem as a liturgical composition suggests its origins within cultic circles, he argues that it "is wrongheaded from the start" to search for more specific circumstances behind its generation.9 Thus while some progress in recent years has been made regarding placing the composition of The Song in the pre-exilic period, there is still little agreement on a more specific period of composition.

' Sanders, Deuteronomy 32, p. 432. ' D. A. Robertson, Linguistic Evidence in Dating Early Hebrew Poetry (SBLD; Missoula, 1972), p. 155. 4 S. A. Nigosian, ''Linguistic Patterns of Deuteronomy 32", Bib 78 (1997), pp. 223-224. 3 . S. Smith, The Early History of God: Yahweh and the Other Deities in Ancient Lsrael (2nd ed.; Grand Rapids, 2002), pp. 30-31 with references cited therein. 6 ' A. Ho, "Zephaniah and Deuteronomy 32", read at the Biblical Hebrew Poetry section of the 2005 Annual Meeting for the Society of Biblical Literature (Philadelphia). "' For a discussion, see Sanders, Deuteronomy 32, pp. 302-315. 8 M. Thiessen, "The Form and Function of the Song of Moses (Deuteronomy 32:1-43)", JBL 123 (2004), pp. 401-424. 9 Thiessen, ''Song of Aboses", 423.

M. Leuchter I Vetus Testamentum 57 (2007)



One potential strategy for clearing the obstacle concerning a general period of composition is to focus upon the role of The Song within Deuteronomy. In other words, why was The Song brought into the Deuteronomic corpus? To answer this questionwhich in turn may shed some light on the poem's compositional originswe must also determine when The Song was introduced into Deuteronomy (i.e., during the pre-exilic or exilic period) and who would have overseen this process.10

II. The Date of the Song's Redaction into Deuteronomy In an influential 1975 article, J. D. Levenson proposed that Deuteronomy was worked into the Deuteronomistic History during the exilic period, and it was at this time that the pre-exilic Deuteronomic corpus received a "frame" to facilitate this process.11 For Levenson, the penultimate chapters of Deuteronomy contained the material that closed this frame, created in part from pre-exilic traditions that had not earlier been associated with Deuteronomic tradition. Levenson pointed to specific lexical and rhetorical features as evidence of redactional work, especially regarding The Song.12 These elements, Levenson concluded, were consistent with an exilic background and addressed a nation that had been separated from its land but which looked to the future for restoration.13 A year after Levenson's article appeared, a study by J. R. Lundbom advanced the argument that The Song was the very document found in the temple during Josiah's reign as depicted in 2 Kgs xxii 8.14 According to Lundbom, this document became the basis for Huldahs oracle (2 Kgs xxii 15-20) and motivated the eventual construction of the Deuteronomic legislation.15 In a subsequent

For a discussion of the pre-exilic provenance of the bulk of Deuteronomy and the D H , see F. M. Cross, Canaanite Myth and Hebrew Epic (Cambridge, MA, 1973), pp. 274-289; R. E. Friedman, The Exile and Biblical Narrative (Chicho, 1981), pp. 1-26; M. A. Sweeney, Kingjosiah ofjudah: The Lost Messiah of Israel (New York/Oxford, 2001), pp. 170-177; J. C. Geoghegan, "Until This Day and the Preexilic Redaction of the Deuteronomistic History",/5Z 122 (2003), pp. 201-227. 11 J. D. Levenson, "Who Inserted The Book of the Torah?", HTR 68 (1975), pp. 203-33, esp. 221. 121 "The Book of theTorah", pp. 212-218. l -' Levenson, "The Book of the Torah", pp. 232-233. u J. R. Lundbom, "The Lawbook of the Josianic Reform', CBQ 38 (1976), pp. 293-302. 13 " Lundbom, "Lawbook", pp. 296-29 7 .



M. Leuchter I Vetus Testamentum 57 (2007)


study, Lundbom proposed that Deut. i-xxviii constituted the pre-exilic Deuteronomic corpus, but did not comment in either work as to whether or not The Song was ever directly connected to that corpus beyond serving as the motivation for the Huldahs oracle and Josiahs reform.16 While Lundborns observations strongly suggest some connection between The Song and Josiahs reign, they did not call into question Lev enson's hypothesis. A pre-exilic poem already associated with the Deuter onomistic circles could have easily been worked into Deuteronomy during the exile. R. E. Friedman adopts this position, pointing out that the exilic circumstance would have served as an appropriate background for The Song functioning as a "witness" to the people's abrogation of the cove nant. 1 This, Friedman argues, would have obtained at a time when alter native witnessing locationsi.e., the templewere no longer viable options. Friedman therefore supports Levenson's view that the poem and its narrative introduction result from an exilic redaction, which he views as part of the exilic attempt to carry the covenant ideology of the pre-exilic Deuteronomists through to the final chapters of Deuteronomy. 18 Levenson's proposal regarding an exilic frame around Deuteronomy is sound, 19 but it is not clear that The Song would have only entered Deuter onomy at the time of the construction of this framework. B. Halpern and D. S. Vanderhooft note that the Chroniclers Vorlage to the pre-exilic Deu teronomistic History (DH) already included the Deuteronomic legislation; it is thus possible that the frame facilitating its inclusion was present before the exile began.20 Furthermore, some of Lundbom's observations are highly suggestive of The Song's role as part of the pre-exilic Deuteronomic corpus. As Lundbom notes, The Song is depicted as a form of torah (Deut. xxxi
J. R. Lundbom, "The Inclusio and Other Framing Devices in Deuteronomy i-xxviif, VT46 (1996), p. 314. 1 Friedman, "From Egypt to Egypt: D t r l and Dtr2'\ Traditio?2s in Transformation: Turn ing Points in Biblical Faith (Fs. F. M. Cross, ed. . Halpern and J. D. Levenson; Winona Lake, 1981), p. 187. 18 ' Friedman, "From Egypt to Egypt", pp. 171, 175, 185-186. P. K. McCarter also views Deut xxxii-xxxiii as entering Deuteronomy at the same time in relation to A4oses* immi nent death (II Samuel [AB; Garden City, 1984], p. 17). 19 Sanders notes that despite common references to The Song, Deut. iv 1-40 contains a different theological bent than the relevant passages in Deut. xxxi {Deuteronomy 32, pp. 350-52). This would point to different periods of composition, though the lexical parallels between the two chapters strongly suggest that one was constructed with an eye to the other. 20 ' B. Halpern and D. S. Vanderhooft, "The Editions of Kings in the 7th-6th Centuries B.C.E." HUCA 62 (1991), p. 237.

M. Leuchter I Vetus Testamentum 57 (2007) 295-317


24), 21 a term deployed in only the strictest sense by the Deuteronomists, and its narrative introduction and conclusion are constructed according to methods found throughout the pre-exilic edition of Deuteronomy. 22 A comparison to the other notable poem at the end of Deuteronomy, the Blessing of Moses (Deut. xxxiii; henceforth, a The Blessing") is instructive. The Blessing is not categorized and qualified by the torah terminology7, despite its inclusion in the current closing frame of Deuteronomy.23 By contrast, The Song is overtly included as part of the Deuteronomic torahindeed, Deut. xxxi 26 informs us that The Song is to function as the grand finale of the Deuteronomic corpus itself, the entirety of which was then deposited next to the Ark of the Covenant. This final note anticipates the moment when Hilkiah "discovers" the very same book in the temple in 2 Kgs xxii 8. As many scholars have noted, this is only one of the links between Moses, Josiah, and the texts associated with both, and best fits a pre-exilic environment when Josiah was still in power.24 Similar qualifications do not characterize The Blessing, which forges no connections between Moses and Josiah. The differences between The Song and The Blessing suggest different dates for the incorporation of each poem into Deuteronomy, and the lan guage of Deut. iv 1-40 supports this view.25 As Levenson correctly notes, Deut. iv 1-40 contains unmistakable references to The Song (though, as Sanders observes, different in tone from those in Deut. xxxi), demonstrat ing deliberate intertextual awareness.26 Deut. iv 1-40 does not, however, contain references to The Blessing; this indicates that the author of Deut. iv 1-40 worked with a corpus that did not contain it. M. Z. Brettler and Sanders have each demonstrated that Deut. iv 1 -40 is decidedly exilic in provenance.2 The inclusion of The Blessing into Deuteronomy must


See Lundbom, "The Lawbook', 299-300. ' Lundbom, "The Inclusion 312-315. 2 " Though Robertson notes that sections of The Blessing exhibit the features of standard poetry (Early Hebrew Poetry, pp. 49-50), substantial portions of the poem (notably the open ing and closing sections) appear to date from an early period. See Z. Weisman, "A Connect ing Link in an Old Hymn: Deuteronomy xxxiii 19A, 2 , VT28 (1978), pp. 365-367. 2 ~ See, e.g., Friedman, "From Egypt to Egypt'', pp. 171-173. Pace W. L. Holladay, "Elusive Deuteronomists, Jeremiah and Protc-Deuteronomy", CBQ ^ 66 (2004), p. 74, who views the poem as part of the pre-exilic Deuteronomic corpus. 2C Sanders, Deuteronomy 32, pp. 350-352. 2 ~ M. Z. Brettler, "A 'Literary Sermon in Deuteronomy 4", A Wise And Discerning Mind (Fs. B. O. Long, d. S. M. Olyan and R. C. Culley; Providence, 2000), pp. 33-50, esp. 47; Sanders, Deuteronomy 32, pp. 344, 350-352.


M. Leuchter I Vetta Testameyitum 5~~ (2007) 295-317

therefore post-date the composition of Deut. iv 1-40, and thus post-date the exilic Deuteronomistic redaction of Deuteronomy. More proximate passages provide further support. As both Levenson and Friedman have shown, the small stretch of narrative that precedes The Song anticipates it thematically and lexically; conversely, the short narra tive material that precedes The Blessing (Deut. xxxii 44-52) does not pos sess such anticipatory features. This pattern may fit well with observations by McCarter and Weinfeld regarding parallel miscellany in Deuteronomy and 2 Samuel which establish connections between David and Moses;28 yet the position of The Blessing is not haphazard or incidental by any means. As scholars have noted, the style of The Blessing is very similar to the Blessing of Jacob that appears near the end of Genesis (Gen. xlix), and both are identified as .".2 (Gen. xlix 28; Deut. xxxiii l). 2 9 Analogous to parallels established between Moses and David, those established between Moses and Jacob create continuity between the Patriarchal narratives of Genesis and the Exodus/Wilderness narratives involving Moses. Moreover, the insertion of The Blessing creates rhetorical balance between the final strophes of Genesis and Deuteronomy, demarcating the basic parameters of the Pentateuch. 30 These features point to a Zadokite redaction of the Pentateuch that likely took place during the exile, with the Zadokites subsuming Deuter onomy within an historiographie work that supported their agenda.31 If the Zadokite redaction of the Pentateuch is dated to roughly the middle of the exile,32 this further opens up the possibility that The Song was a part of Deuteronomy considerably earlier, and we should note characteristics that suggest a Josianic-era redaction. First, The Song is overtly categorized as something that Moses teaches to the people. As Carr notes, this is a charac teristic of the Deuteronomistic literature that presented itself as an alterna tive to older modes of Wisdom instruction associated with Solomons


McCarter, II Samuel, p. 19; M. Weinfeld, Deuteronomy 1-11 (AB; New York, 1991), pp. 9-10. See also R. Abba, "Priests and Lvites in Deuteronomy", VT27 (1977), p. 260. 2y See R. D. Nelson, Deuteronomy (OTL; Louisville and London, 2002), p. 386. " See the succinct discussion by . . Levinson, "Deuteronomy" (annotated comments), The Jewish Study Bible (ed. A. Berlin and M. Z. Brettler; New York, 2003), pp. 437, 445-446. 11 So also Nelson, Deuteronomy, 386. For the exilic redaction of the Pentateuch by Zadok ites, see I. Knohl, The Sanctuary of Silence (Philadelphia, 1995), p. 95, who identifies these redactors with members of the Holiness School. ,2 Knohl, Sanctuary of Silence, p. 95.

M. Leuchter / Vetui Testamentmn 5/ (200/)



reign.33 This characterization would suggest that The Song was deliberately emphasized as part of this counter-Solomonic tradition, pointing to a redactor who was interested in distancing Deuteronomy from Solomonic tradition. 34 Sweeney has convincingly argued that this differentiation was a major feature of the Josianic-era Deuteronomistic literature, which took aim at Solomon's abuses and indulgences.35 Thus agenda does not charac terize the exilic additions to Deuteronomy or the D H , which take aim not at Solomon but at Manasseh. 3b The deliberate categorization of The Song as part of the Deuteronomistic stream of counter-Solomonic instruction appears to have more in common with the Josianic-era texts. Second, The Songs form and function as a prophetic rib voiced by Moses himself is suggestive of a Josianic-era redaction.3^ It is during the Josianic period that the legislation concerning legitimate prophecy emerges, with the effect of transforming Moses into the prophet par excellence and mandating a succession of prophets who followed in his footsteps (Deut. xviii 15-22). It was at this time, too, that many inter-textual con nections were established between the D H and earlier prophetic traditions to construct a single, consistent prophetic tradition (1 Kgs xiii 1-10; 1 Kgs xxii 28; 2 Kgs xviii-xx = Isa. xxxvi-xxxix), coinciding with a redac tion of the 8th century prophets. 38 Since many of these prophetic works contained variations on the rib pattern, 39 it would benefit the Josianic scribes to present Moses, the fountainhead of the prophetic movement, as bequeathing a prototypical ribThe Song itselfto his prophetic
D. M. Carr, Writing on the Tablet of the Heart: Origins of Scripture ayid Literature (New York/Oxford, 2005), pp. 133-135. 34 For the roots of the rift between Deuteronomistic tradition and the Wisdom tradition that originated with Solomon, see M. Leuchter, Josiahs Reform and Jeremiahs Scroll: His torical Calamity and Prophetic Response (Sheffield, 2006), pp. 57-61.
3 33

" M. A. Sweeney, "The Critique of Solomon in the Preexilic Edition of the Deuteron omistic History', JBL 114 (1995), pp. 607-622. For a detailed analysis of this phenomenon, see B. Halpern, *'Why Manasseh Is Blamed for the Exile: The Evolution of a Biblical Tradition', VT48 (1998), pp. 473-514. ,See Thiessen, ''Song of Moses", p. 421, who notes that The Song may possess features beyond that of a covenant lawsuit, but contains such a lawsuit at its heart. 30 As many scholars have noted, 1 Kgs xiii 1-10 is drawn from the Amos tradition; see, among others, W. B. Barrick, The Kmg and the Cemeteries: Towards a New Understayiding of Josiahs Reform (Boston/Leiden, 2003), pp. 217-219 and sources cited therein. See also K. Bodner, u The Locution of 1 Kings 22:28: A New Proposal", JBL 122 (2003), p. 543 n. 37 for the intertextual connection between 1 Kgs xxii 28 and Mie. i 2. For the Josianic redaction of the prophetic corpus, see Sweeney, King Josiah, 311-313. 39 Thiessen, "Song of Moses", pp. 410-414.


M. Leuchter / Vtus Testamentum 57 (2007)


successors. Far from Mendenhall's suggestion that the Deuteronomists were historically misguided in their attribution of The Song to Moses,40 the incorporation of the poem into the Josianic-era edition of Deuteronomy would fit very nicely into their concept of a succession of YHWH's "servants the prophets" (2 Kgs xvii 13, 23) beginning with Moses and persisting for centuries.41 Third, the concluding comments following The Song contain a direct parallel to cuneiform law (Deut. xxxii 47; cf. the epilogue to the Laws of Hammurabi),42 categorizing The Song and the lawcode to which it was appended as similar in function to the Akkadian political literature that confronted Israel and Judah as vassal states or provinces of Assyria. Weinfeld s exhaustive comparison of Deuteronomy with ancient near eastern treaties demonstrates the profound influence of the latter on the former, especially with respect to Esarhaddons vassal treaties.43 This influence has led some scholars to posit an exilic context, when Israel would have been immersed in Mesopotamian culture.44 However, the texts associated with the exile are more clearly marked by an overt resistance to Mesopotamian culture and an inward turn towards Israelite literary and religious traditions.4^ Moreo\^er, it
G. E. Mendenhall, ''Samuel's Broken Rib: Deuteronomy 32", A Song of Power and the Power of Song (d. D. L. Christensen; Winona Lake, 1993), p. 179 (reprinted from the original 19 7 5 article). 41 This would not only explain the echoes of The Song in Huldah's oracle but also similar reflexes in Zephaniah s work (as discussed by Ho) that can likewise be dated to the Josianic period. 42 Levinson, "Deuteronomy', p. 445. As Lundbom has shown, The Song is not simply inserted into an older account to which v. 47 belonged but is woven from the same fabric as the material surrounding it ("The Lawbook", pp. 299-300). * Weinfeld, Deuteronomy and the Deuteronomic School, pp. 57-157. * 44 See, for example, J. Van Seters, A Lawbook for the Diaspora: Revision in the Study of the Covenant Code (New York/Oxford, 2004), who views the Covenant Code as arising from Mesopotamian legal influence on the Petateuchal writers. 4 ' See, among others, D. Rom-Shiloni, "Facing destruction and exile: Inner-Biblical exe gesis in Jeremiah and Ezekiel", ZAW l\7 (2005), pp. 189-205; S. L. Cook, "Innerbiblical Interpretation in Ezekiel 44 and the History of Israel's Priesthood, JBL 114 (1995), pp. 193-208; M. Z. Brettler, "Predestination in Deuteronomy 30.1-10", in Those Elusive Deuteronomists: The Phenomenon of Pan-Deuteronomism (ed. L. S. Schearing and S. L. McKenzie, JSOTSup 268; Sheffield, 1999), pp. 171-188. X4esopotamian prototypes are re-engaged with the rise of Persia; see S. . Paul, "Deutero-Isaiah and Cuneiform Royal Inscriptions'', Essays in Memory of E. A. Speiser (ed. W. W. Hallo; New Haven, 1968), pp. 180-186; A. Laato, "Zechariah 4:6b-10a and the Akkadian Royal Building Inscrip tions'', ZAW 106 (1994), pp. 53-69.

M. Leuchter I Vetus Testamentum 57 (2007)



is during the Neo-Assyrian period, not the exile, that one encounters the 46 most dramatic influence of cuneiform texts on the Biblical authors. It is in this environment that the Josianic-era literature emerged, and indeed many texts in the D H clearly concerned with Josianic interests rely on Assyrian 4 prototypes to communicate their messages. " One may also view the role of The Song as a valedictory address as resulting from literary influence from the Neo-Assyrian period. While Weitzman demonstrates that The Song's position conforms to a well-known ancient literary genre, Weinfeld points more directly to parallels from the literature emanating from Esarhaddons reign.48 Given the influence of Esarhaddons vassal treaties on the form of the Deuteronomic corpus, it is reasonable to view The Song's position as informed by similar influences. Many scholars recognize that Josiah's reform began following the death of Assurbanipal in 627 BCE as an attempt to reclaim control of Judah and the former northern kingdom, with Deuteronomy at the center of the reform program. 49 Yet it is important to bear in mind that while Assyria was weakened, it was not yet dead and loomed in the distance as a poten tial threat.^0 Deuteronomy's affinities with Neo-Assyrian forms of rhetoric suggests more than mere influence by the cuneiform sources. It was con structed as a surrogate political code directed to a people who had known only Assyrian hegemony for the last century of their existence, and who could yet turn their allegiance to their former Mesopotamian masters or

For the 8th century awareness of Assyrian literature, see P. \4achinist, "The Image of Assyria in the First Isaiah' JAOS 103 (1983), pp. 719-737. See also . M. Levinson, "Is The Covenant Code an Exilic Composition? A Response to John Van Seters", In Search ofPreExilic Israel: Proceedings of the Oxford Old Testament Seminar (ed. J. Day; Edinburgh, 2004), pp. 294-97, for the Neo-Assyrian period as the better background to the redaction of the Covenant Code and the immediate antecedent for Deuteronomy. 4 See the detailed discussion by B. M. Levinson, "Textual Criticism, Assyriology, and the History of Interpretation: Deuteronomy 13:7a as a Test Case in Method", JBL 120 (2001) 236-241. 43 ' See S. Weitzman, "A Lesson from the Dying: The Role of Deuteronomy 32 in Its Nar rative Setting", HTR 87 (1994), pp. 377-393; Weinfeld, Deuteronomy 1-11, pp. 4-5. 49 For epigraphic evidence regarding Josiah's northern ambitions, see M. Heltzer, "Some Questions Concerning the Economic Policy of Josiah', LE] 50 (2000), pp. 105-108. See also Leuchter, Josiahs Reform and Jeremiah's Scroll, pp. 64-69. 50 ' Assyria persisted (alongside Egypt as a coalition partner) as a threat to Judah until its dissolution between 612 and 609. For an historical overview, see B. Oded, "Judah and the Exile", Israelite andjudaean History (ed. J. H. Hayes and J. M. Miller; Philadelphia, 1977), pp. 463-469; A. Malamat, The History of Biblical Israel Otiten, 2004), pp. 290-291.



M. Leuchter I Vetus Testamentum 57 (2007)


accept Deuteronomic policy (ergo the "choice" expressed in Deut. xxx 1520). M In short, while the identifiably exilic additions to Deuteronomy and the D H look inward and develop extant Israelite literary themes, the Josianic-era edition of Deuteronomy more readily incorporates external Akkadian themes and tropes into its verses to compete with a still-living Assyrian threat. The virtual quotation of Akkadian legal terms suggests that The Song and its frame should be dated to the pre-exilic period, during the reign of Josiah. Finally, we find important resonances with The Song in the book of Jeremiah. As Holladay has demonstrated, Jeremiahs oracles make reference to The Song with great frequency.^2 This is especially the case with Jer. ii-iv, a collection of oracles that originally was directed to the north during the Josianic period. 53 After an overt reference in Jer. ii 2 to the standards of puriw from the days of the wilderness mentioned in Deut. xxxii 10 ( ^ , " 2~ 7 " ^ - ) ' t n e invective continues with a concentrated succession of references which in many cases are unique to Jeremiah and The Song: 54 Jeremiah
ii 8 - ^

The Song v. 17 w. 17,21 z^ (c-^)-^^

ii 12

i ^ w :^w

v. l
v. 16

zrzo ""rar

ii 25 ii 28 iii 13



w. 37-38 v. 16

-r-^ ^ C-

The unparalleled frequency of references to The Song in these passages appears alongside dramatic references to the Deuteronomic legislation (e.g., Jer. ii 7; iii 1 cf. Deut. xxiv 1-4 with respect to both Jeremianic verses). As Holladay concludes, The Song was likely part of the pre-exilic edition of Deuteronomy; Jeremiah's reliance on The Song as the basis for his own rib against the north in Jer. ii-iv (and elsewhere) contributes to his selfperception as a Deuteronomic prophet like Moses (see especially Jer. i 9;
",1 Pace Friedman, "Egypt to Egypt", p. 183, who views the passage as exilic. 1,2 \C. L. Holladay, "Jeremiah and Moses: Further Observations", JBL 85 (1966), pp. 1727', idem, ''Elusive Deuteronomists", pp. 63-66. ^ For a discussion of Jer. ii-iv as initially addressed to the north, see Sweeney, Kmg Josiah, pp. 221-225; Leuchter, Josiahs Reform arid Jeremiahs Scroll, pp. 91-102. "*" Most of the parallels listed are discussed by Holladay in "Jeremiah and Moses", pp. 1920. See also his "Elusive Deuteronomists", pp. 63-66, for additional parallels from else where in the Jeremianic corpus.

M. Leuchter I Vetus Testamentum 57 (2007)



Deut. xviii \S)P That the likely background for this rib against the north is the Josianic period suggests that The Song was part of the Josianic edi tion of Deuteronomy. 56 A major episode in the narrative sections of the Jeremianic corpus also provides important information regarding a potential Josianic redactional date of The Song into Deuteronomy. Jer. xiii relays the account of Jeremiah's oracle following the murder of Gedaliah b. Shaphan, the Babylonian-appointed governor of the remnant community stationed at Mizpah. While this oracle may reflect the prophet's actual sentiments, it is stylized upon Deut. xxviii, applying that chapter's threats and conditions to the Judeans now poised to flee to Egypte But what commands our attention is that the narration following Jeremiah's oracle is virtually identical to the narration following The Song: When Jeremiah had made an end of speaking ("Z~^ "*2 ,^) unto all the people ( ^Z ^ ) all the words of YFiWH their God, wherewith YHWH their God had sent him to themall these words (~^ Z"~.ZT ^Z ) (Jer. xliii 1) And when Moses made an end of speaking ("Z"^ !2 *7Z"-) all these words (7.^7. Z-Z-TM ^Z r.K) to all Israel (*7~ ^Z ^ ) (Deut. xxxii 45) The deliberate nature of these lexical commonalities is made absolutely clear by the syntactically independent and emphatic clause at the end of Jer. xliii 1 (^; C * " 2 " ^Z .). In addition, the structure of the Jeremi anic verse inverts the lexemes of its Deuteronomic source, further identify ing the deliberate nature of the citation (Seidels Law)."8 The author overtly emphasizes that Jeremiah's oracle to the remnant community is to be understood alongside the comments following The Song in Deut. xxxii 45. This intertextual connection follows the many allusions, citations and ref erences to Deuteronomy and the D H throughout the book of Jeremiah of
" ' Holladay, "Elusive Deuteronomists", pp. 73-74. 56 Leuchter, Josiahs Reform and Jeremiahs ScrolL pp. 91 -102. 5_ See J. R. Lundbom, Jeremiah 37-52 (AB; New York, 2004), pp. 130, 134, for a discussion. 38 The sequence of lexemes in Jer. lxiii 1 is Z'J^ 7-2 ^/ Z"~Z ^2 ; the sequence in Deut. xxxii 45 is ~ ^ ~ Z"~ "72 /^~" "72 ^fc. The shift from ^ " Z " to Z'JT, may be explained via the Jeremianic author's attempt to establish continuity \\ ith the narrative of the contentious crowd (Z'J) in Jer. xxvi (w. 7, 11-12, 16-18, 24), but the citation is otherwise nearly exact. It is notable that despite the inversion of lexemes, the terminology characterizing the conclusion of both Jeremiahs and Aloses' speeches is identical, suggesting typological equivalency between the two. For a discussion of Seidels Law, see Levinson, Deuteronomy, pp. 18-20.


M. Leuchter I Vetus Testamentum 57 (2007)


which most scholars are aware. The references in Jer. xliii 1, however, carry special significance. The author of Jer. xliii 1 does not refer to the immediate source for the preceding oracle (i.e., Deut. xxviii) but attempts to equate the entirety of his version of Deuteronomy with the Jeremianic tradition via the phrase " ^ 8 " C~2 bz "tf.D9 That this exilic authors version of Deuteronomy included Deut. xxxii 45part of a passage that we have already judged to be pre-exilic in originpoints to his corpus also including The Song framed by the text he cites. Moreover, it suggests that for the author of Jer. xliii 1, the principal Mosaic exhortation in Deuteronomy did not end in Deut. xxviii but continued on and included The Song.60 The virtual citation of Deut. xxxii 45 in the Jeremianic passage thus not only contributes to the presentation of Jeremiah as a Mosaic prophet, and one who could properly invoke The Song as part of his invectives (as per Jer. ii-iv). It also demarcates the parameters of the Deuteronomic Torah as inherited by the exilic author of Jer. xliii 1, one that antedated the construction of the exilic frame and that was likely of Josianic provenance. We are therefore justified in viewing the redaction of The Song into Deuteronomy as arising from a pre-exilic, Josianic context. We must now examine the position of The Song in the pre-exilic version of Deuteronomy and consider why it is there.

III. The Song's Purpose in the Pre-exilic Edition of Deuteronomy As discussed above, Friedmans study of Deuteronomy proposes that The Song was placed into the book to serve as a witness to the breaking of the covenant in light of the exilic circumstance now facing Deuteronomy's audience.61 Friedman argues that the introduction to The Song does not contain a threat of exile but comments upon one that has already taken place.62 While Friedman views this allusion as relating to a Babylonian exile in progress, this is not the only or best explanation. The defining moment in Israel's pre-exilic history had been the Assyrian crisis and the deportation of the northern Israelites, which the Deuteronomists explained as arising from
' Nelson offers a similar view, commenting that the Z*~ZT ^2 in Deut. xxxii 45 refers to both The Song and the law code proper (Deuteronomy, p. 378). See below for additional discussion. 60 Pace Lundbom, "The Inclusio", pp. 314-315; Abba, "Priests and Lvites", p. 260. 61 " Friedman, "From Egypt to Egypt", p. 187. 62 Friedman, "From Egypt to Egypt", p. 179.

M. Leuchter I Vetus Testamentum 57 (2007)



their abrogation of the covenant ideology as preserved by the prophets (2 Kgs xvii). This Deuteronomistic explanation follows upon the earlier Hezekian redaction of Amos and Hosea's oracles, which were shaped to teach Judah that the north had indeed fallen because they had not heeded these prophets' words.63 Thus by the Josianic period, the lesson of the northern destruction by Assyria was a well-entrenched method of prophetic/scribal instruction, and was eventually infused into the Josianic, pre-exilic D H . 6 4 Beyond the different themes that Sanders notes in Deut. iv 1-40 and Deut. xxxi 16-22 (with only the former possessing discernible exilic tones),65 the verses that Levenson and Friedman identify as exilic in Deut. xxxi actu ally possess more in common with pre-exilic Deuteronomistic passages that address the fall of the north. 6 6 Deut. xxxi 16, for example, charges that the people have gone after "foreign deities of the land" Cf""Ku "122 Ti'PK). While this phrase anticipates identical terminology in The Song (w. 12 and 16), it also draws from terminology common to pre-exilic Deuteronomistic texts (Josh, xxiv 20, 23; Judg. 16; 1 Sam. vii 3), and buttresses the ideology behind the pre-exilic legislation in Deut. xii 2-3 that eradicates the rural cult. Similarly, Deut. xxxi 17 claims that YHWH's wrath will be visited on the nation "on that day" (ft*. 272), recalling language in other contexts that relate to the Assyrian annihilation of the northern kingdom as envi sioned by the Josianic writers.6 By contrast, identifiable exilic passages in the D H repeatedly blame the exile not on the entire nation but on Manasseh (as noted above),68 and exilic passages within Deuteronomy attempt to adjust the tradition to suggest that covenantal life could continue. 69 Finally, as noted above, Deut. xxxi 26 speaks of the deposition of "this torah scroll" (\~ " "122) next to the ark, anticipating 2 Kgs xxii 8, a pre-exilic passage. The phrase 7 122 simultaneously relates to the Deuteronomic lawcode and The Song as indicated by the term "witness" ("2 "2 CO ) in the same verse that draws from The Song's call to Heaven

' For the Hezekian redaction of Amos and Hosea, see Halpern, "Jerusalem a n d m e Lin eages", pp. 79-80. 641 Carr notes the shift during this time from a Wisdom-centered education-enculturation system to one dominated by prophetic thought (Writing on the Tablet of the Heart, p. 167). 6,1 Sanders, Deuteronomy 32, pp. 344-345.
66, 6

This possibility is also explored by Sanders (Deuteronomy 32, p. 345). ~' See Leuchter, "A King Like All the Nations", pp. 555-556. 681 Halpern, "Why Manasseh", pp. 505-514. 691 See, for example, Brettler, "Predestination in Deuteronomy 30.1-10". ~0, Friedman, "From Egypt to Egypt", pp. 171-173. See also Sweeney, King Josiah, pp. 40-51.


M. Leuchter I Vetas Testamentum 57 (2007) 295-31 "

and Earth as witnesses to the poet's complaint. While The Song's invoca tion of Heaven and Earth as witnesses may have functioned exactly as Friedman and Levenson have described during the exile, its purpose in the pre-exilic period would have pertained to different concerns. A clue to The Song's pre-exilic purpose is its placement as the coda of the pre-exilic Deuteronomic Torah, in relation to the literary structure of the work. It is during the Neo-Assyrian period that one sees the beginning of the extensive hermeneutical use of literary sequences and structures in the Deu teronomistic literature. McCormick views this phenomenon as an exilic desire to construct the architecture of the text in the stead of actual physical structures that suffered destruction by Babylon, l but this is already an active feature of the pre-exilic literature. A telling example may be found in 1 Kgs vi 11-13, a brief passage full of Deuteronomistic phraseology that presents a divine message communicated to Solomon: the temple will only be legitimate if its builder (and, presumably, its functionaries) abide by divine law. This short notice is inserted directly into the middle of an earlier account of the temple's actual construction, functioning as a literary foundation inscription for the chapter akin to the physical foundation inscriptions upon which temples were constructed throughout the ancient near east. 2 This passage is best seen as emerging from a pre-exilic redaction of the Solomonic archives, as Josiah's scribes were keenly concerned with legitimizing Solo mon's temple while criticizing his transgression of Deuteronomic law. 3 Indeed, the pre-exilic account of the discovery of the law book in the temple (2 Kgs xxii 8) becomes a more convincing event if, as 1 Kgs vi 11-13 sug gests, the temple had always been founded on this very law. The symbolic dimensions of literary sequences and structures also occur on a larger scale. The structure of 1 Sam. viii-xii, for example, subverts an older collection of Saulide propaganda into a meditation on the causes for Israel's recent experience with Assyria and revealing the direction to national restoration. 4 "The Rule of the King" voiced by Samuel in
C. . McCormick, Palace and Temple- A Study of Architectural and Verbal Ico?is (BZAW; Berlin, 2002), pp. 42-43, 168. 2 For a discussion of a close antecedent use of foundation inscriptions, see . N . Porter, Images, Power, Politics Figurative Aspects of Esarhaddons Babylonian Policy (Philadelphia 1993), pp. 105-16. See also Laato, "Zechariah 4:6b-10a\ pp. 53-69. ^ Pace Friedman ( Hie Exile and BiblicalNarrative [HSM; Chico, 1981 ], p. 24), who views this passage as exilic in origin. See also Cross, CMHE. p. 2 8 7 , for this same position. 4 Leuchter, "A King Like All the Nations", pp. 556-557, pace S. Frolovs position that 1 Sam. viii is a late-exilic or post-exilic rejection of kingship [Hie Turn of Vie Cycle: 1 Samuel 1-8 in Synchronic and Diachronie Perspective [BZAW; Berlin, 2004], pp. 191-194).

M. leuchter I Vtus Testamentum 5/ (200?)



1 Sam. viii 11-18 may reflect the old priest's actual position on kingship (compromising as it did his sacral authority), 5 but this tradition has been refracted through a Deuteronomistic prism. A scribe has carefully constructed Samuel's exhortation to relate to Neo-Assyrian policies imposed upon Israel and Judah. 6 By placing this exhortation before the Saulide material in 1 Sam. ix-xi, the redactor suggests that non-Davidic kingship (such as that of Saul and, implicitly, the kings of the north) did indeed provide Israel with "a king like all the nations", i.e., an Assyrian suzerain. By appending Samuel's speech in 1 Sam. xii to the end of the Saulide material, though, the redactor points to Josiahs reign and adherence to the Deuteronomic covenant as a safeguard against such a tragedy repeating itself. The subsuming of the Saulide literature within the Deuteronomistic superstructure thus establishes an ideological prototype for kingship that will only reach its full apex in Josiah's reign, and informs all other accounts of Israelite kings and the standards expected of them. Similar hermeneutical constructs emerge from textual sequences within Deuteronomy itself. Levinson notes the structura7hermeneutical position of Deut. xvii 2-7 within the juridical pericope of Deut. xvi 18-xviii 22. Though many scholars have argued that Deut. xvii 2-7 must be "restored" to an original location in Deut. xiii by virtue of topic and theme, Levinson has argued convincingly that xvii 2-7 should remain in its current position, providing as it does a literary "test case" within the redefined system of justice in the text that surrounds it. 8 The sequence of the text in Deut. xvi 18-xviii 22 reveals the meta-meaning of Deut. xvii 2-7. A similar situation obtains with respect to Deut. xvii 14-20, the law regarding the king. This passage appears at first to interrupt the discourse that spans xvii 8-xviii 22, which addresses the legitimate agents of jurisprudence and establishes the dynamics of the central judiciary. Many scholars have therefore viewed the passage (and the larger pericope of which it is a part) as standing against or dramatically limiting kingship. 9 Despite the apparent
1 For a full discussion of the nature of the early priestly response to the founding of the monarchy, see B. Halpern, "The Uneasy Compromise: Israel between League and Monarchy', Traditions in Transformation, pp. 7 " 7 -85. c Leuchter, "A King Like All The Nations'', pp. 556-557. See, for example, P. E. Dion, ''Deuteronomy 13: The Suppression of Alien Religious Propaganda in Israel During the Late Xlonarchic Era", Law and Ideology in Monarchic Lrael, pp. 147-210. * See Levinson, Deuteronomy, pp. 107-13". See, e.g., W. M. Schniedewind, Hoiv the Bible Became a Book: The Textualizatwn of Ancient Israel (Cambridge, 2004), pp. 110-111; G. N. Knoppers, "The Deuteronomist and the


M. Leuchter I Vetus Tegmentum

57 (2007)


limitations put on the king as a juridical agent, however, the law of the king occurs directly in the center of chapters xvii 8-xviii 22, which cannot be accidental and unlikely to be the result of secondary interpolation. 80 Rather, the position of the passage indicates that the king, while not a juridical agent, is nonetheless central to the process of facilitating and safe guarding the law. This pertains directly to Josiah, a king who does not make the law but who certainly enforces it (2 Kgs xxiii 1-25). These structural elements permeating Deuteronomistic literature should move us to attempt to discern similar reflexes regarding the placement of The Song. If The Song served as the conclnsioti to the pre-exilic Deutero nomic law, it may have possessed a direct hermeneutical/sequential relation ship to the pre-exilic beginning of that law. It is generally accepted that beyond the extended superscription in Deut. iv 44-49, the pre-exilic edition of Deuteronomy begins in Deut. v, and the outstanding feature of that chapter is the recounting of the Sinai theophany and the recitation of the Decalogue. At first glance, The Song and the Decalogue would appear to have little in common; one is a poetic invective, the other a terse prose col lection of legal prescriptions and proscriptions. Yet while these texts clearly fall into different form-critical categories, their respective immediate literary contexts point to some structural relationship shared between the two. The following shared terminology occurs in the narrative framework that sur rounds both the Decalogue in Deut. and The Song in Deut. xxxii:
Y H W H spoke these words ( ~ ^ ~ Z*~Z""~) to all your assembly (ZZ^rp "72 ^8) (Deut. 18) A n d w h e n Moses m a d e an e n d of speaking all these words ( " ^ 8 " Z"~Z~~ ^Z) to all Israel ( ^ " * ^Z ^S) (Deut. xxxii 45) Y H W H did n o t m a k e this covenant w i t h o u r fathers, b u t w i t h us, even us, w h o are all of us here alive this day (Z*T) (Deut. 3)

Deuteronomic Law of the King: A Reexamination of a Relationship'', ZAW 108 (1996), pp. 329-346: Le\Tinson, Deuteronomy, pp. 138-143: idem, ''The Reconceptualization of Kingship in Deuteronomy and the Deuteronomistic History's Transformation of Torah", I T 5 1 (2001), pp. 520-534. 8,1 Sweeney notes that Deut. xvii 14-20 does not proscribe monarchic initiatives but legis lates that the Deuteronomic Torah be preserved, observed and implemented by the king. Given the Josianic agenda of the Deuteronomic Torah, this ensured that royal initiatives would in fact prevail {KmgJosiah, pp. 160-163). See Weinfeld, "Emergence", pp. 96-9^, for the ancient Near Eastern background to this literary feature.

M. Leuchter I Vetus Testamentum 57 (2007)



Set your heart u n t o all t h e words wherewith I testify against you this day

(ZV-) (Deut. xxxii 46) That it might be well with them, and with their children (':) (Deut. 25) That ye may charge your children (ZZ"Z) (Deut. xxxii 46) And you will prolong your days in the land (j'"KZ C".T :2"".) which you shall possess ("T. -.wK) (Deut. 29) Through this thing you shall prolong your days upon the land (^'J Z'.T "Z""K" nz""tf") that you will cross over the Jordan to possess (~rO~b) (Deut. xxxii 47) Several of these lexemes are found elsewhere in Deuteronomy (e.g., the emphasis on children appears in Deut. xi 7; the prolonging of life in the land appears in Deut. xi 9), but what is significant is that these terms and themes do not extend beyond the closing frame to The Song in Deut. xxxii 47. The Song is thereby subsumed within the expanse of dis course that included sections of Deuteronomy typically identified as preexilic, beginning with the Decalogue. Like the examples cited above from elsewhere in Deuteronomy and the D H , the paralleling of Deut. and xxxiiand thus the paralleling of the Decalogue with The Songmust have served some specific ideological and even propagandistic purpose. As Levinson has noted, the Decalogue is invoked to base the ensuing Deuteronomic innovations in a recognized and ancient tradition. 81 The impulse for antiquarianism in the Deuteronomic corpus binds its contents to an early figure (Moses), an early event (Sinai/Horeb) and reworks early legal traditions (notably, the altar law in Exod. xx 18-24 and the Covenant Code in Exod. xxi-xxiii).52 The apoearance of the Decalogue in Deut. would serve as an introduction to this antiquarian impulse running through 83 out the corpus, as it is itself presented as an ancient tradition. If this is the
. . Levinson, "The Hermeneutics of Tradition: A Response to J. G. McConville", JBL 119 (2000), pp. 279-282. b2 The interest in antiquarianism that emerged in the late 8th through late 7th centuries is discussed by B. Halpern, "Jerusalem and the Lineages in the 7th Century: Kinship and the Rise of Individual Moral Liability", Law and Ideology in Monarchic Israel, pp. 86-88. For the reworking of the Covenant Code, see Levinson, Deuteronomy, pp. 6-17; Sweeney, King Josiah, pp. 149-150, 154-159, 169. 8 - ' For the antiquity of the Decalogue (in some form) see Nelson, Deuteronomy, pp. 78-79, who notes that the Horeb/Sinai Decalogue tradition is deployed as an etiology (and thus already perceived as ancient in the late 7th century) for the ensuing Deuteronomic exhortation.


M Leuchter I Vetus Testamentum 57 (2007)


case, then the semantic parallelism of the Decalogue and The Song suggests that the Deuteronomists viewed (or at least presented) both texts as comparably ancient. The intervening material in Deut. vi 1-xxxi 30 is thus framed on either side by what was understood as an ancient exhortation bound to Mosaic tradition, with the hermeneutical effect of transforming that intervening material into part of the same ancient exhortation. It is here where scholarship into the pre-exilic redaction of the D H may clarify the purpose of such a hermeneutical strategy. Geoghegan has convincingly demonstrated that the pre-exilic redactors of the D H were active during Josiah's reign and shaped their literature to relate to the social WO rid surrounding them.84 In addition to this conclusion regarding a date for the redaction, Geoghegan provides evidence that the redactors may well have been Lvites, or were at least deeply concerned with the interests of Lvites.83 Of particular significance is Geoghegan s observation that the D H appears to appeal to the interests of northern Lvites, as the redactional incursions into the sources of the D H repeatedly stress locations and events that related to sacral locations associated with the north. A similar concern with northern tradition runs throughout Deuteronomy, as scholars have long noted, as well as a recurring concern with the social role of the Lvites.86 This is no theoretical matter but reflects the political reality of Josiahs reign.8 Deuteronomy provides various strategies for preserving the centrality of Lvites in the rural religious culture now purged of a rural cult (Deut. xii; 2 Kgs xxiii 4-24), including a re-imagining of the local Lvite as an administrative agent of the central Deuteronomic establishment.88 Given Josiah's interests in reclaiming the north (2 Kgs xxiii 15-20), it is likely that Deuteronomy's strategies for Levitical agency in Judah would also be extended to Lvites of northern heritage with an eye to restoring them to their northern posts. A difficulty7, however, had to be confronted.
~ Geoghegan, ''Until This Day", pp. 224-227. ^ Geoghegan, ''Until This Day", p. 226. S6 For an overview of Deuteronomy s northern influences, see Seinfeld, Deuteronomy 1-1L pp. 44-50; Leuchter, Josiahs Refomi and Jeremiahs Scroll, pp. 53-60. s Pace N . Lohfink, who views substantial sections of Deuteronomy as Utopian visions constructed during the exile (''Die Sicherung der Wirksamkeit des Gotteswortes durch das Prinzip der Schriftlichkeit der Tora und durch das Prinzip der Gewaltenteilung nach den Amtergesetzen des Buches Deuteronomium (Dt. 16,18-18,22)", Studien zum Deuteronomium undzur deuteronomistischen Literatur I[SBAB; Stuttgart, 1990], pp. 305-323). bs For a brief discussion of this strategy, see Leuchter, Josiahs Reform and Jeremiahs Scroll, pp. 42-44. See also idem, "The Lvite in Your Gates: The Deuteronomic Redefinition of Levitical Authority", 7& (forthcoming).
s 5

M. leuchter I Vtus Testamentum 57 (2007)



Josiah could recruit Levitical orders in Judah to regionally administer Deuteronomic policy, but doing the same in the north was not immediately possible: there were no viable Lvites in the north from which Josiah could draw recruits to the cause. The account of Josiah's annexation of the north reports that the king eradicated its cultic infrastructure and killed its priests, apparently as a repudiation of their earlier sponsorship under Assyria (2 Kgs xvii 24-33). 89 It is for this reason that the D H is so concerned with the northern Lvites: Josianic hegemony could not be secured in the north without a sacral caste to act as regional administrators. The D H was therefore redacted to present Josiah as a king who venerated the interests and heritage of northern Lvites.90 Nevertheless, the tentative northern Levitical administrators of Deuteronomy could only be expected to accept their charge if the Deuteronomic lawcode itself spoke in a voice to which they were amenable. As such, Deuteronomy, while supporting Josiah's centralizing/federalizing agenda, consistently draws attention to rural Lvites and northern tradition. That Deuteronomy is rhetorically presented as Moses' words is the ultimate attestation to this concern: in the pre-Deuteronomistic traditions, Moses is depicted above all as the Lvite par excellence, and looms large in prophetic and historiographie literature that derives from the north (e.g., 1 Sam. ii 27-28; 1 Kgs xix 8-14; Hos. xii 14).91 Deuteronomy, a Jerusalemite composition, plays upon this tradition as a way of selling Josianic policy to the Lvites of northern heritage just as the redaction of the D H persistently emphasizes their concerns.92 Similar strategies accompany Jeremiah's early activity as a Josianic propagandist to the north, as his oracles were addressed not only to the broad northern population but also to his kinsmen the Shilonites of Anatoth, a guild of northern Lvites long associated with Mosaic tradition.93 Significantly, the Jeremianic oracles that
Extra-biblical evidence further supports Mesopotamian imperial sponsorship of regional cults. See G. Frame, "The 'First Families' of Borsippa during the Early Neo-Babylonian Period",/CS 36 (1984), pp. 67-80. 90 So also Geoghegan, "Until This Day", pp. 225-227 (though Geoghegan is reticent to view the D H primarily as Josianic propaganda). 9 For Moses as a prototypical Lvite, see Sweeney King Josiah, p. 143. For the northern origins of 1 Sam. ii 27-28, see M. Leuchter, "Something Old, Something Older: Reconsidering 1 Samuel 2:27-36", Journal of Hebrew Scriptures 4 (2003), 6.1.1-6.3.1 (purl://www. For the northern origins of 1 Kgs xix, see 4. White, To e Eli] ah legends and Jehu, Coup (BJS; Atlanta, 1997), pp. 36-43, 47. 92 Geoghegan, "Until This Day", pp. 225-22 7 . 93 For the Shilonites' connection to Moses, see Cross, CMHE, pp. 195-215. For Jer. ii-iv as directed in part to the Shilonites, see Leuchter, Josiahs Refortn and Jeremiahs Scroll, pp. 91-109.


M. Leuchter I Vetus Testamentum 57 (2007)


draw from The Song with the greatest frequency (Jer. ii-iv) are those that initially criticized the Shilonites for refusing to join the Josianic cause.94 Jeremiah's use of The Song, in fact, provides the key for understanding its role within Deuteronomy. Jeremiah's own rib in the early stratum of Jer. ii-iv deploys The Song more than any other Deuteronomic passage or chapter. The prophet invokes The Song against his Levitical Shilonite kinsmen not simply because it was part of the Deuteronomic corpus of his day, but because it was somehow associated with them and with northern Levitical tradition before its interpolation into Deuteronomy. As Thiessen observes, The Song originated and was long performed in liturgical contexts;95 priestly-sacral circles such as the Lvites would have been the most likely candidates for preserving and performing this poem in such a way. When we consider the abundance of northern lexemes that permeate The Song alongside Thiessen's observations, the picture becomes even clearer.96 If The Song had been a northern liturgical staple, its traditional place of recitation and performance would have been among the northern Lvites. To these Lvites, The Song would have been their text, emerging from their liturgy and representing their culture. The reason for wrhy The Song was incorporated into the pre-exilic, Josianic edition of Deuteronomy thus emerges: its position as the grand finale of the book served propagandistic purposes similar to the Levitical focus of the redactional accretions in the DH. Along with the Decalogue, The Song was meant to hermeneutically transform a Jerusalemite document into a program consistent with ancient northern Levitical tradition, and indeed to present the Deuteronomic program as the fullest expression of ancient northern Levitical interests.9

Leuchter, ibid. ' Thiessen, "Song of Moses", pp. 407-10, 418-419. 96 See again Sanders, Deuteronomy 32, p. 413, for the northern language in The Song. See also G. A. Rendsburg, Linguistic Evidencefor the Northern Origin of Selected Psalms (SBLM; Atlanta, 1990), pp. 73-75, 78-81. 91 J. W. Watts makes a similar observation: "... when Deuteronomy was completed, most likely in the seventh or sixth centuries BCE, the song of Moses may already have been widely known... If that was the case, by equating the song with the law, Deuteronomy 31 was enlisting the song's popularity to support the promulgation of deuteronomic law." ("'This Song': Conspicuous Poetry in Hebrew Prose", Verse in Ancient Near Eastern Prose [AOAT; ed. J. C. de Moor and W. G. E. Watson; Neukirchen-Vluyn, 1993], p. 358). Watts, howe\'er, does not discussion the connection to Levitical interests.


M. Leuchter I Vtus Testa?nentum 57 (2007)



IV. Conclusions and Implications To return to the original issue discussed at the outset of the present study: does The Song s purpose within Deuteronomy offer any fresh perspectives into its actual compositional origins? To answer this question, one must view the inclusion of The Song in its broader context. The function of The Song within Deuteronomy as a propagandistic appeal to ancient northern Levitical tradition is no anomaly. It is consistent with Geoghegans redactional model for the D H and dovetails with other episodes within Deuteronomy where ancient northern Levitical tradition is hermeneutically associated with the Josianic-era law book (e.g., Deut. xxxi 25-26). 98 The Song's function is thus only part of a larger tapestry that qualifies Deuteronomy and the D H as an ideological system that breaks with the Wisdom tradition of the royal courts and which purports to returns to the old Levitical standards of the pre-monarchic period." The Deuteronomists may have had the Shilonites in mind, specifically, in recalling the era of pre-monarchic Levitical leadership, as it was they who dominated the central priesthood in the period immediately before the monarchy.100 Though the Deuteronomists condemn most of Israels kings, a few are especially noted for their abuse of the Shilonites. Solomon excommunicates Abiathar and his confreres from Jerusalem and confines them to the village of Anatoth (1 Kgs ii 26) while he constructs the temple cult in Jerusalem, and Jeroboam slights Ahijah the Shilonite and his brood by excluding them from the northern cult, securing their enmity (1 Kgs xiv). Saul goes the furthest by slaughtering the Shilonite priests at Nob in his desire to control the cult and quash potential opposition (1 Sam. xxii 19-21). Other kings are reported to have engaged in sacral violation (prophets are slain during Ahab's reign, and Manasseh is said to have brought foreign religious practices into Judah) but Saul, Solomon and Jeroboam stand out for marginalizing a Levitical guild that had at one time been the mediators between the tribal league and YHWH.

981 See especially S. L. Richter, "The Place of the Name in Deuteronomy", VT57 (2007), 342-366, for a discussion of the pre-monarchic Shechemite Levitical Torah tradition represented in Deut. xxvii. Thiessen also suggests a connection between The Song and the Levitical ceremony in Deut. xxvii ("Song of Moses", p. 419). 99 ' So also Carr, Writing on the Tablet of the Heart, pp. 134-136; Leuchter, Josiahs Reform and Jeremiahs Scroll, pp. 57-60. 100 Halpern, "The Uneasy Compromise", p. 77.


M. Leuchter I Vetus Testamentum 57 (2007)


Even a cursory glance at The Song's contents reveals significant continuity with the Deuteronomistic critique of Saul, Solomon and Jeroboam. The Song speaks from the vantage point of a priest who has been oppressed or discharged from his rightful place, and calls for vengeance against an Israelite abuser who has "grown fat" with his own power and who has constructed an illegitimate cult (w. 15-18), a charge that could be levied against any one of these early kings from the Shilonite perspective. It is reasonable to conclude that one of the reasons for The Song's place within the Josianic edition of Deuteronomy was to contribute to the image of Josiah as a contrast to these early monarchs and to distinguish his regime and its lawcode (Deuteronomy) as different from those of his abusive predecessors.101 The statements in 2 Kgs xxii 1-2 and xxiii 25 that Josiah followed in the ways of his ancestor David and fully adhered to the laws of Moses fits well with a law code ending with an old poem penned by Mushite priests who had known only David to be a monarchic supporter. Moreover, Thiessen's model of The Song as a liturgy performed over many generations matches well with dating The Song's origins with the early monarchy.102 The Song's linguistic profile points to a compositional period early enough where the introduction of standard Hebrew forms that came with each successive performance did not substantially eclipse the original archaic morphemes and syntax.103 This, coupled with echoes of The Song in the 8th century prophets (and in one case, in a 9th century historiographie passage), strongly suggests a compositional period well before the mid-8th century when standard Hebrew linguistic forms become pervasive.104

Sweeney notes such a strategy in the book of Judges, which implicitly ties Saul to the Bethel shrine (a major target of Josianic derision) and im-eighs against both (King Josiah, pp. 123-124). 11,2 Thiessen himself notes the lack of discussion concerning the temple cult within The Song, and considers the possibility that it was composed before the temple was constructed ("Song of Moses", p. 419). 1 ""' See Robertson, Early Hebrew Poetry, pp. 36-38, 60, 146, for a tabulation of early \ s . standard Hebrew forms within the poem. Robertson suggests a date between the late 11th and mid 10th centuries BCE due to the limited presence of standard Hebrew (p. 155). 1,141 See Sanders, Deuteronomy 32, p. 426; Leuchter, Josiahs Reform and Jeremiahs Scroll pp. 55-56; R. Bergey, "The Song of Moses (Deuteronomy 32.1-43) and Isaianic Prophecies: A Case of Early Intertextuality?"/SOT'2S (2003), pp. 33-54; Mendenhall, "Samuels Broken Rib\ p. 171.


M. Leuchter I Vtus Testamentum 57 (2007)



Nigosian s suggested 10th through 8th century date therefore appears to be the likely background to The Seng's composition,105 but one should view The Song as deriving from the earlier end of that spectrum rather than the later. The Deuteronomists' manipulation of The Song matches their manipulation of 10th century historiographie traditions relating to Solomon and Jeroboam. In the case of Solomon, we have already seen that the polemic against him is motivated in part by the neglected Deuteronomistic charge to obey YHWH's law (1 Kgs vi 11-13). The same demands are made of Jeroboam (1 Kgs xi 29-39), with the success of his reign contingent upon adherence to the Deuteronomic law.106 That this Deuteronomic lawcode itself presents The Song as its grand finale suggests that The Song originally emerged as part of an early polemic against these very kings. Working these traditions into a single Deuteronomistic ideological matrix constitutes an attempt to reconcile the institution of the monarchy with the old northern Levitical priesthood. Thus the position of The Song bears witness to more than just the transgression of the covenant by the unnamed enemy of its original poet or the fallen northern population as envisioned by its Josianic redactors. It witnesses the complex intertextual world the Josianic scribes sought to create in order to transform the injustices of days past into a tenable ideology for their own time.

Nigosian, "Linguistic Patterns", pp. 223-224. For a discussion of the Deuteronomistic redaction of Ahijahs oracle to Jeroboam, see M. Leuchter, ''Jeroboam The Ephratite",/Z 125 (2006), pp. 53-59.


^ s
Copyright and Use: As an ATLAS user, you may print, download, or send articles for individual use according to fair use as defined by U.S. and international copyright law and as otherwise authorized under your respective ATLAS subscriber agreement. No content may be copied or emailed to multiple sites or publicly posted without the copyright holder(s)' express written permission. Any use, decompiling, reproduction, or distribution of this journal in excess of fair use provisions may be a violation of copyright law. This journal is made available to you through the ATLAS collection with permission from the copyright holder(s). The copyright holder for an entire issue of a journal typically is the journal owner, who also may own the copyright in each article. However, for certain articles, the author of the article may maintain the copyright in the article. Please contact the copyright holder(s) to request permission to use an article or specific work for any use not covered by the fair use provisions of the copyright laws or covered by your respective ATLAS subscriber agreement. For information regarding the copyright holder(s), please refer to the copyright information in the journal, if available, or contact ATLA to request contact information for the copyright holder(s). About ATLAS: The ATLA Serials (ATLAS) collection contains electronic versions of previously published religion and theology journals reproduced with permission. The ATLAS collection is owned and managed by the American Theological Library Association (ATLA) and received initial funding from Lilly Endowment Inc. The design and final form of this electronic document is the property of the American Theological Library Association.