FORBIDDEN MIXTURES by CALUM M. CARMICHAEL Ithaca, N.Y. No group of laws has yielded so little meaning as those pro- hibiting certain mixtures: a vineyard is not to be planted with two different kinds of seed, an ox and an ass are not to plough together, and something called wool and linen together, is not to be worn (Deut. xxii 9-11).' Interpreters are at a loss to make much sense of them. "The reason [or reasons] underlying this legislation are no longer clear to the modern reader" .2 As a reaction to this lack a retrojection in time is resorted to by commentators. The meaning that must have been present to begin with belongs to a far- off epoch, long before the Deuteronomic and Levitical codes were compiled, when apotropaic customs existed in ancient Israel or in pre-Israelite times.3 No apparent meaning suggests magical notions originally and these echo primitive religious practices. This is a despairing line of enquiry and it is also unnecessary. The Deuteronomist knew exactly what meaning lay in these laws because they are original to him (the similar Levitical ones come after). The clue to their construction lies in recognizing that lawmaking of the
Vetus Testamentum – Brill
Published: Jan 1, 1982
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