Numbers 29:12-34 describes the sacrifices involved in the celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles, called in Hebrew, the Feast of Sukkot (“Booths”). Included in those sacrifices were 70 bulls, a number that far exceeds any other Israelites festival. Scholars have taken note of the number and speculated that it has some relationship to the number of the sons of God allotted to the nations in the judgment at Babel (Deut 32:8-9; cp. Genesis 10’s 70 nations). Some believe the passage is a vestige of polytheism (the bulls are offered to the gods of the nations) or that it describes an atonement ritual for the 70 nations of Genesis 10. In this episode of the podcast we examine these opinions and offer another interpretation, one that sees a connection to the Deuteronomy 32 worldview, but that focuses more on the meaning of the Feast of Sukkot.
Dr. Noga Ayali-Darshan: Sukkot’s Seventy Bulls: The Torah’s adaptation of a polytheistic ancient West-Semitic custom of sacrificing to seventy gods