If you’re following the comments on this post, you will note that one of the readers (Chris) has argued that the rules for the passover in the book of Exodus weren’t really rules – Exodus only described a memorial. Therefore, the rules in Deuteronomy were the “real” rules to observe — those were the ones that Israelites were to follow.  Hence there are no content changes from Exodus to Deuteronomy. This is incoherent for several reasons, but I want to ask that any of you who agreed with this (and of course Chris) answer the questions below that derive from that position.

Before the questions, let’s review one major difference I see (and basically every major commentator I know of sees): in Exodus, the passover is to be offered in one’s home; in Deuteronomy, it is to be offered at “the place where the Lord sets his name” and not any towns or cities in Israel. This “place where Lord shall set his name” phrase in Deuteronomy, I argued, speaks of the temple (and again, there is wide agreement here).  It indicates that the Deuteronomy Passover rules were composed at a time later than Moses.

Here are my questions:

1. Where is the predictive language in Deuteronomy 16, so that the rules for Deuteronomy are futuristic predictions?  I’d like to see words like “now when you eventually get into the land and eventually build a temple, then follow these rules for Passover.” Deut 16 reads matter-of-factly without any predictive language.  I submit it was written that way because it was written at a time when those rules made sense (i.e., at a time when the temple existed). Since the phrase (and Chris argues this) “the place where the Lord will set his name” can refer to the Tabernacle, Chris cannot argue that it refers to a temple predictively. He could argue both, but not either exclusively. To argue it’s only the tabernacle means that Deuteronomy is NOT predictive in language (the Tabernacle was already in existence). To argue that it is only the temple means he’d agree with me. But “both” doesn’t solve the real problems.

Chris argued that “the place where I will set my name” refers to the Tabernacle, so as to avoid any Deuteronomic changes. A search of the three lemmas (maqom = “place”; shem = “name”; shakan = “set, establish, cause to dwell”) in Deut 16:6 shows that they occur in only nine verses in the OT. All but three are in Deuteronomy. Only one could possibly refer to the tabernacle (Jer. 7:23) and not the temple proper, though the reference to Shiloh is viewed retrospectively by Jeremiah. But we’ll assume that the Tabernacle could be described by this phrase, though. Here are the rest of my questions:

2. I’d like to see a single instance of the Passover being observed according to the Deuteronomic procedure that was PRIOR to the temple being in existence — that is, produce a single example that Passover was practiced at the Tabernacle (as opposed to in everyone’s house as in Exodus) in accordance with the “real” passover laws in Deuteronomy before there was a temple.This would offer actual data from Scripture to support the idea that the people took Chris’ position (!) – that they understood the real Passover laws were in Deuteronomy and acted on that, prior to there being a temple. If there is no example, then this is an argument from silence, which is no argument at all.

3. In the absence of an example for number two, then I’d also like an explanation for how the Deuteronomic instruction to offer the passover sacrifice “at the place where the Lord will set his name” = every individual’s house. I doubt we can scripturally argue that the presence of Yahweh was in every Israelite tent or house).I want to see that in the text.

4. More generally, I’d like Chris to show us that the Scripture itself makes the distinction for which he argued apparent in the text. Where do we find a Scriptural statement to the effect that, “the Exodus laws aren’t really how you are to do Passover – the things written in Exodus 12 are a one-time memorial, and that’s it.” That’s the lynchpin for his view, so I’d like to see atleast one biblical writer say that.

My point with these questions is that Deuteronomy’s language denotes A REAL CHANGE in Passover, a change that reflects a different set of theological circumstance. If Deuteronomy’s rules were the “real rules” as Chris suggests, and the people were never supposed to follow the exodus rules since they were “a memorial,” then he must account for the practice.

Just in case readers wonder, there are in fact examples of the Passover being celebrated at the temple, in concert with the Deuteronomic rules (Hezekiah – 2 Chron. 30; Josiah – 2 Chron 35). I need not argue from silence. In regard to Josiah’s offering, note 2 Chron. 35:13 – where the passover lambs were boiled in water (pots, cauldrons) and distributed to the people to eat.  This practice was forbidden in the Exodus rules (Exod. 12:9). The Deuteronomic allowance (I would argue) is NOT a contradiction in Scripture — it is a pragmatic change in the passover law to make a huge, centralized (the temple) passover feast possible in logistic terms. It’s a clear difference.