“A Place For My Name”: Horeb And Zion In The Mosaic Vision Of Israelite Worship -- By: Daniel I. Block

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 58:2 (Jun 2015)
Article: “A Place For My Name”: Horeb And Zion In The Mosaic Vision Of Israelite Worship
Author: Daniel I. Block


“A Place For My Name”: Horeb And Zion In The Mosaic Vision Of Israelite Worship

Daniel I. Block*

* Daniel Block is Gunther H. Knoedler Professor of OT at Wheaton College, 501 College Avenue, Wheaton, IL 60187.

I. Introduction

The relationship between Israel’s protracted but one-time audience with YHWH at Sinai/Horeb and the regular encounters between Israelites and YHWH envisioned by Deuteronomy at the place YHWH would choose for his name has not received the attention it deserves.1 In an earlier publication I suggested that

the place that YHWH chooses for his name ensures a means of communion with all Israel in perpetuity, analogous to his communion with them at Horeb, except that here Moses democratizes the experience. At Horeb only a privileged few ate in YHWH’s presence; here Moses opens fellowship with him to everyone.2

Upon further reflection and study this proposal seems unwarranted; inasmuch as the contrasts between the Israelites’ worship at Horeb3 and their future worship at the central sanctuary as envisioned in Deuteronomy are much more dramatic than their shared features, the former actually provides a foil for the latter. My strategy in this paper is first to investigate Deuteronomy’s disposition toward Horeb and the events that happened there and then to explore Deuteronomy’s vision for the kind of experiences that Moses anticipated would transpire in the future at the place that YHWH would choose to establish his name. My method is largely inductive and constructive, sifting through the text of Deuteronomy to determine what features of the Israelites’ encounters with YHWH at these two places were shared and which features were unique.

II. Sinai/Horeb In The Book Of Deuteronomy

The toponym “Sinai” (סִינַי) occurs only once in Deuteronomy, in the exordium to Moses’ farewell blessing of the tribes of Israel:

YHWH came from Sinai

and dawned upon them from Seir;

He shone forth from Mount Paran;

accompanied by myriads of holy ones,

and fire emanating from his right (33:2, author translation).

In its details, the entire exordium (vv. 2-5) is extremely difficult to interpret, but the gist seems clear. YHWH is portrayed in glorious theophanic form as coming from the m...

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