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In the WildernessThe Doctrine of Defilement in the Book of Numbers$
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Mary Douglas

Print publication date: 2001

Print ISBN-13: 9780199245413

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199245413.001.0001

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The Laws

The Laws

(p.144) Chapter 7 The Laws
In the Wilderness

Mary Douglas

Oxford University Press

The laws in the Book of Numbers deal with the two main topics: the first covers all kinds of sin and uncleanness, including the difference between intentional and unintentional transgression, and purification from contact with blood. The second includes offerings for the priests, the sacrifices to be made on appointed festivals through the calendar year, and vows. One should recognise at the outset that they are a selection. Even if the style of law sections is modelled on other ancient law codes, and even if Numbers is taken as sharing the account of law with Exodus and Leviticus, in so far as they are to be seen as parts of a single law book, the combined laws give a very incomplete coverage. Since Numbers is written in two intersecting strands of narrative and law, the so-called law or ordinance strands must be important.

Keywords:   laws, Book of Numbers, sin, transgression, purification, offerings, selection, Leviticus, narrative, ordinance

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