Hope of Israel Ministries (Ecclesia of YEHOVAH):
Did Ezra the Scribe Tamper with the Law of Moses?
In Deuteronomy 16:2 it says, "Thou shalt therefore sacrifice the Passover unto the LORD thy God, of the flock and of the herd, in the place which the LORD shall choose to place his name there." Yet in Exodus 12:5 it says, "Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year: ye shall take it out from the sheep, or from the goats." Says one writer, the reason for this difference is that Ezra the scribe re-wrote Moses' words in Deuteronomy 16, and changed the Law. What is the truth?
by HOIM Staff
Is there a contradiction between Exodus 12:5 and Deuteronomy 16:2? Why does Exodus plainly tell us the Passover had to be a kid or a lamb, but Deuteronomy says even an animal from the 'herd" -- a bullock -- can be sacrificed? What gives? Why does Deuteronomy say "of the herd"?
This used to puzzle me. At one time I thought that perhaps the reference to the "herd" might have referred to a "herd of goats." Obviously, goats don't "flock" together like sheep do -- they are too independent. But we do speak of a "herd of goats."
However, in studying Ezekiel's description of the millennial Temple of YEHOVAH God, I discovered another answer to the enigma. In Ezekiel 45:21 we read, "In the first month, in the fourteenth day of the month, ye shall have the Passover, a feast of seven days; unleavened bread shall be eaten." During these seven days of Passover, YEHOVAH God commanded various "Passover" sacrifices to be offered at the Temple, or sanctuary. On the first day of the feast, two young bullocks and one ram and seven lambs were to be offered for a burnt offering to the LORD (YEHOVAH) (Numbers 28:16-19). These would be the "Passover" offerings, and fell on the first high holy day, when the Passover was to be eaten. They included two bullocks. These sacrifices on Passover would fulfill the commandment in Deuteronomy 16:2 about the sacrifices "of the herd," which were to be made on the Passover. However, as the commandment in Exodus plainly states, the Passover sacrifice itself had to be a young sheep or goat of the first year, unblemished. Obviously Deuteronomy 16:2 is discussing a different sacrifice than the regular Passover lamb!
Another answer to this question, however, has also come to light. In studying in preparation for the Passover this year, I ran across a reference to Deuteronomy 16:2 which cleared up the whole problem. I discovered that the "Passover" sacrifice mentioned in Deuteronomy 16:2 could also refer to a special offering which often accompanied the Passover lamb itself, when it was sacrificed on Nisan 14. In The Secrets of the Haggadah: A Commentary on the Passover Haggadah, by M. Glazerson, we read the following:
"When the Pesach Sacrifice is offered, a Peace Offering is offered with it on the fourteenth day of the month, either from the bullocks or the sheep, large or small, male or female. This is called the 'Chagigah of the Fourteenth.' Of it, the Torah states: 'And you shall bring the Pesach as an offering of a meal to Hashem, your God; from the flock and the herd...' (Devarim 16:2). Scripture did not make this mandatory, but optional...
"When is the Chagigah brought together with the Pesach Sacrifice? They are offered together only in a state of ritual purity on weekdays when the Paschal lamb is too small for all those eating. It may be eaten for two days and one night. It is governed by the same regulations as all Peace Offerings...." (p.25).
One writer has claimed that the verse in Deuteronomy 16:2 refers to the Passover lamb itself, and that Ezra the scribe, who lived about one thousand years after Moses, changed the text and rewrote the words of Moses, adding the words "of the herd," and the entire commandment that the Passover lambs had to be killed at the "place where God put His Name," and not within their own gates or homes.
This idea would mean that Ezra, a faithful and true servant of YEHOVAH God, tampered with the Word of YEHOVAH God, and deliberately altered Holy Scripture -- a nonsensical and foolish idea, if I ever heard of one! Ezra would never tamper with Scripture. "For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the LORD, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and judgments" (Ezra 7:10). He was "Ezra the priest, the scribe, even a scribe of the words of the commandments of the LORD, and of his statutes to Israel" (verse 11). Ezra was a very righteous and godly man, and would never have tampered with or altered the meaning or the text of the books of Moses.
However, for a supposed man of YEHOVAH God to claim that Ezra changed the writings of Moses, and altered inspired Scripture (II Tim.3:16), changing its meaning, is tantamount to calling Ezra a heathen, pagan, and calling YEHOVAH a "liar" who didn't really preserve His Word as truly "inspired."
The truth is, YEHOVAH God Almighty inspired Moses when He gave him the Law -- the Torah. This includes Deuteronomy, chapter 16. Ezra did not change Scripture. It has been our understanding of the Scripture which has been lacking. The Jewish book Secrets of the Haggidah clears up this mystery of the usage of the word "herd" in Deuteronomy 16, as it applies the the Passover. It is a reference to the Chagigah "peace offering," which could accompany the Passover sacrifice itself!
This is an example of how we must be very careful lest we leap to wrong conclusions when studying the Bible. As the apostle Paul wrote, we must -- "Study to shew thyself approved unto God, rightly dividing the word of truth" (II Timothy 2:15). In our effort to "Prove all things" (I Thessalonians 5:21), we mudt be very careful that we are not led astray by ministers and teachers who lack true understanding and who use the word of YEHOVAH God to deceive, delude, and seduce YEHOVAH's people into the way of error. As Solomon wrote so vividly, "There is a way that seems right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death" (Proverb 14:12).
Truly we must be very careful, and not accept at face value the ramblings and musings and mutterings of modern day ministers and "false teachers" who misunderstand, misteach, and misuse the Word of YEHOVAH God to their own advantage and purposes. There are many ministers out in the world -- wolves in sheep's clothing -- who teach absurdity and folly for profit. And far too many have been suckered in by their vain words of arrogance and pretense.
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