Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Where Did They Get All The Wood?

Farrell Till shows that the Israelites would not have had access to enough wood (among other major problems) during their alleged 40 years of wandering in the Sinai desert. From the Errancy Discussion list, April 27, 1997:

Till 

As noted in an earlier posting, the fire on the altar at 
the door of the tabernacle was a permanent fire that 
never went out: "And the fire upon the altar shall be 
kept burning thereon; it shall not go out, and the 
priestshall burn wood on it every morning; and he 
shall lay the burnt-offering in order upon it, and shall 
burn thereon the fat of the peace-offerings. Fire
shall be kept burning upon the altar continually; 
it shall not go out" (Lev. 6:12-13). Even if this 
statement were not in the sacred word, we 
would have to conclude that the fire on the altar 
had to burn continuously, because the daily 
sacrificial rituals, officiated by only three priests 
(four after Aaron's grandson Phinehas was 
ordained), would have had to burn continuously. 

Even then, with three or four priests working 

nonstop, they could hardly have attended to 
all of the sacrifices necessitated by 2.5 to 3
million people trying to heed Yahweh's holy 
Lcommandment to incinerate animals and birds 
to him for their sins and other needs. Even if 
we assume that each person in the band of 3 
million refugees trekking to the promised
land offered only one sacrifice per year (which 
certainly would not have satisfied Yahweh's 
holy ordinances concerning sacrifices), the three 
(or four) priests would have had to officiate at over 
8,200 sacrifices per day. If we divide these 
evenly among the four priests, each one would 
have had to officiate at 2,050 sacrifices per day, 
but a division of labor like this would not have 
been possible, since all sacrifices had to be made 
on the altar at the door of the tabernacle. Perhaps 
we can imagine a scenario where one priest made 
an offering, while a second one prepared another,
which he would slap onto the altar as soon as the 
first one had been duly incinerated, after which a 
third priest would have thrown on a third, etc. 


Even at this, each priest would have had to do 85 
sacrifices per hour, if theyhad all worked nonstop 
without eating or sleeping. That would amount to 
1.4 sacrifices, per priest, per minute, a scenario that 
would hardly have been possible, since the fire on 
the altar could not have consumed an animal that
rapidly. We must also remember that the offal of 
the animals and the ashes left over from the sacrifice 
had to be carried by the priest "out of the camp" 
and duly disposed of in accordance with Yahweh's 
other holy ordinances. Since the tabernacle was 
always located in the center of the,camp, the 
disposal of offal and ashes would have required 
at least a 2.5 trek, even if we visualize the chosen 
ones sleeping like sardines to keep the size of 
the camp to just 5 square miles. Of course, if the encampments were made to provide each person 
a little elbow room, the treks out of the camp 
would have been longer for the priests (who were 
all loaded down with offal and ashes). And 
inerrantists try to tell us that the Bible is a work
of perfect harmony!

At any rate, we are told that the fire on the altar 
burned continuously. Ifthat is so, we have to wonder 
where all of the wood was obtained in the Sinai 
wilderness to keep it burning. Every morning a priest 
had to put wood on the fire, but one would think that 
the years and years that this fire burned would have 
depleted what wood may have grown naturally in 
the area. This would be especially true, since we 
have to believe they the chosen ones wandered 
about in circles. One would think that once a circle 
had been completed, the need for wood would have 
been a specially acute problem for the priest who 
had to keep the fire burning on the altar. We have 
to wondertoo where the people obtained wood for 
their personal fires, which they would have needed 
to cook and stay warm at night. With up to three 
million people in the encampments, there was
surely keen competition for wood. Despite this, 
we are asked to believe that an altar fire was kept
burning continuously and that somehow wood 
was always available for the altar in a region that 
would surely have been stripped of wood in the 
forty years of wandering about in circles.

I'm sure that there must be a simple explanation
for this problem but that I have just overlooked it.
Perhaps Woodcock, Magill, McDonald, Dave (court),
or (Aubrey) Matthews could tell us what the
explanation is. Maybe Aubrey knows of some 
archaeological discovery that proves that the
Israelites had a permanent source of firewood
while they were wandering about.

Farrell Till

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