Other Feast: Korban Etzim (Wood Offering)

Wood in a Woodpile.  Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

Leviticus 6:8 Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 9 “Command Aaron and his sons, saying, ‘This is the law for the burnt offering: the burnt offering itself shall remain on the hearth on the altar all night until the morning, and the fire on the altar is to be kept burning on it. 10 The priest is to put on his linen robe, and he shall put on undergarments next to his flesh; and he shall take up the ashes to which the fire reduces the burnt offering on the altar and place them beside the altar. 11 Then he shall take off his garments and put on other garments, and carry the ashes outside the camp to a clean place. 12 The fire on the altar shall be kept burning on it. It shall not go out, but the priest shall burn wood on it every morning; and he shall lay out the burnt offering on it, and offer up in smoke the fat portions of the peace offerings on it. 13 Fire shall be kept burning continually on the altar; it is not to go out. (NASB 1995)

The least known of all the appointed times (Heb. mo’edim) is the Offering of Wood (Heb. Korban Etzim).  To learn more about what korban means; see here (note that wood is overlooked).  As Torah clearly states above, the sacrificial altar and the fuel to keep it burning perpetually had to be provided for in some manner.  Unfortunately, the calendrical passages describing when this event would occur would be lost to history if it were not for the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, most of which are warehoused and/or on display at the Rockefeller Museum and the Shrine of the Book in Jerusalem.  Four scrolls mention this mo’ed:  The Temple Scroll (11Q19), the Reworked Pentateuch (4Q365), and portions of the priestly courses (Heb. mishmarot) in 4Q325 and 4Q327; the definitive date is contained in the latter:

“After the Feast of New Oil is the Feast of the Offering of Wo]od.”  (4Q325, Fragment 1, Column 3) from p.350 of “The Dead Sea Scrolls in English” by Geza Vermes

4Q327 is more definitive:

“[On the twenty-firs]t (day) in (the fifth SIXTH month) is a Sabbath.  On the twenty-second (day) in (the fifth SIXTH month) is the Festival of Oil.  Af[ter the sab]bath … is the Offeri[ng of Wood].” (4Q327, Fragment 1, Column 2) Ibid.

Note:  Corrections were made from the reconstructed Qumran calendar.  There is no weekly Sabbath on the twenty-first day of the fifth month, but there is in the sixth.  As we will discover, Vermes based his translation on the incorrect practice recorded by “rabbinic sages” in the Talmud, where this festival was observed in the fifth month of the Masoretic ecclesiastical calendar known by its Babylonian name Av.

As was presented last week, the Feast of New Oil (Heb. Chag Yitzhar) occurs on the twenty-second day of the sixth month — 49 days after the Feast of New Wine (Heb. Chag Tirosh), and as is stated above, the Wood Offering occurs “after the Feast of New Oil” (4Q325) and “after the (weekly) Sabbath” (4Q327).  This means that it occurred on the twenty-ninth of the sixth month on the first day of the week.  When reconciling that date with the pagan Gregorian calendar, that coincides with the “evening” of 9/14 and the “morning” of 9/15 during non-leap years and the “evening” of 9/15 and “morning” of 9/16 during leap years.

One additional piece of information leads up to the culmination of the festival itself; this is documented in the Reworked Pentateuch:

“And the Lord [lit. Yahoah] said to Moses, ‘Command the children of Israel, saying: When you enter the land which I am giving to you as an inheritance, and you dwell upon it securely, you shall bring wood for a burnt-offering and for all of the service of [the H]ouse which you shall build for Me in the land, to lay it on the altar of burnt-offering, [and] the calves … for Passover sacrifices and peace-offerings and thank-offerings and free-will offerings and burnt-offerings daily … and for the doors and for all the service of the House you shall offer … the festival of Oil, the twel[ve tribes] they shall offer wood … Those who offer on the first day shall be Levi and … [on the third day, Reu]ben and Simeon, [and on] the fou[rth] day …’” (4Q365, Fragment 23) from p.445 of “The Dead Sea Scrolls in English” by Geza Vermes

So, it appears days were appointed before the festival to present the wood offering from each of the twelve tribes of Israel.  Is this practice mentioned elsewhere in the Bible?

Nehemiah 10:34 Likewise we cast lots for the supply of wood among the priests, the Levites and the people so that they might bring it to the house of our God, according to our fathers’ households, at fixed times annually, to burn on the altar of the Lord our God, as it is written in the law; 35 and that they might bring the first fruits of our ground and the first fruits of all the fruit of every tree to the house of the Lord annually, 36 and bring to the house of our God the firstborn of our sons and of our cattle, and the firstborn of our herds and our flocks as it is written in the law, for the priests who are ministering in the house of our God. (NASB 1995)

“As it is written in the law” in v34 refers to Leviticus 6:8-13.

Nehemiah 13:30 Thus I purified them from everything foreign and appointed duties for the priests and the Levites, each in his task, 31 and I arranged for the supply of wood at appointed times and for the first fruits. Remember me, O my God, for good. (NASB 1995)

Is this mentioned in extrabiblical texts as well?

“Now the next day was the festival of Xylophory; upon which the custom was for every one to bring wood for the altar (that there might never be a want of fuel for that fire which was unquenchable and always burning).” — Titus Flavius Josephus, “The Wars of the Jews,” Book 2, Chapter 17, Section 6

Note:  Josephus employed the Greek term Xylophory, meaning “wood-bearing,” instead of Korban Etzim by the time of the First Jewish-Roman War in 66 CE; this proves that the Hellenization of Israel — including its paganism — was an expanding influence.  The timing of the Wood Offering had changed from the 29th of the sixth month of the Qumran calendar to the 15th of the fifth month (Heb. Tu B’Av), or mid-August, recorded by “rabbinic sages” in the Mishnah. This became a time associated with marriage and pagan practices such as mid-summer bonfires.  Do you see how the Law was continually corrupted?  This is documented throughout the Scriptures.  Are you beginning to see why modern Jerusalem — and by extension — Israel is Mystery Babylon?

Be sure to read the companion articles in the Mo’edim (appointed times) and Agricultural Feasts series:

Shema Yisrael! (Hear, Israel!)

Copyright (C) 1995-2018, L. Alan Schuetz. All rights reserved.

2 Timothy 2:15 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth. (NASB 1995)

HaDerech Scroll - Paleo-Hebrew