How To Cook A Passover Lamb Without Ruining the Whole Bible

Exodus explains how to conduct a Passover.

And Deuteronomy explains how to conduct a Passover.

Which really sucks. First, this is the boring, hyper technical, and legal part of the Bible. Second, cooking a passover lamb isn’t very interesting to me or most people. And, finally, not only do you have to read how to conduct a Passover, but you have to read it twice.  And that’s to say nothing of the fact that, since the Bible is inerrant, we really need only one set of instructions, right? They’re both just going to say the same thing, right?

Anyway, Chris, I think you’re getting distracted . . . how does one cook a passover lamb?

Simple.

Here you go . . .

“You shall not eat the meat raw or boiled in water, but roast it over a fire.” — Exodus c12

“You shall boil it and eat it at the place that the Lord your God will choose.” — Deuteronomy c16

Okay.

Wait….

WHAT

WHAT?!?!?!

So you furiously open up your Bible right now to check, and … AHA! … smarty-pants McNeal is wrong! You read God’s command in Deuteronomy and it clearly reads, like Exodus, to “roast” a Passover lamb. Meaning, Chris obviously got this idea in some liberal tent meeting, but, like usual, he never bothered to read the Bible for himself.

Some of you have taken it a step further. You’ve gone to Google and searched “alleged Bible contradictions” or done a Strong’s search and read that the Hebrew word for boil is בָּשַׁל “bashal” and that bashal can mean “boil” or “roast.” And since the Bible can’t contradict itself, it obviously in this instance has to mean “roast”.

Case closed. Chris obviously got too excited to find the Bible contradict itself, and now he’s just stumbling over himself.

Actually, what’s going on in our concordances is an example of how our theology prevents us from reading the Bible for what’s really happening in it. Yes, your English translation of Deuteronomy probably says roast. Yes, your Strong’s concordance says that the Hebrew word בָּשַׁל “bashal” can mean “roast.”

But everyone outside of traditional evangelicalism instantly notices that Deuteronomy c16 is the only place in the whole Bible when Strong’s thinks Bashal means roast. And then you insert “bashal” in its place in the English text and notice the trouble that happens.

“You shall not eat the meat raw or bashal it in water, but roast it over a fire.” — Exodus c12

“You shall bashal it and eat it at the place that the Lord your God will choose.” — Deuteronomy c16

You must not bashal it in Exodus but you must bashal it in Deuteronomy. You can’t observe one command without violating the other.

And this was not lost in the 3rd century BCE book of 2nd Chronicles, which described a Passover preparation and kind of panicked. Really, if you come to the passage with the knowledge you now have, it’s actually quite telling:

They boiled (bashal) the passover lamb with fire according to the law and they boiled (bashal) the holy offerings in potsII Chronicles c35

The chronicler wasn’t sure whether to describe this as a roasting or a boiling, and after what I assume to be several sleepless nights, settled on describing it as “boiling with fire, according to the law.” This is funny, but also disingenuous.

So, getting back to our original question, how does one cook a Passover lamb without ruining the Bible?

Simple.

We change our expectations of what the Bible is.

We admit that these passages contradict each other rather than rush to keep them from contradicting each other. We ask why two passages contradict each other rather than go to war to explain how they don’t.

Even though Exodus presents itself in the Bible before Deuteronomy, Deuteronomy was written centuries before Exodus. We’re confident about this because of its remarkable similarity with the many treaties that Assyria imposed on nations it conquered (and Israel was one of those nations). So, when the Old Testament tells us that Josiah “found” a book of the law, we’re pretty confident that Deuteronomy was that book. However, by the time Exodus was written—this was after Assyria and the later Babylonian exile—Passover lambs were being roasted and not boiled, so Exodus simply reflects that change.

And, by this point, I’m sure they believed that God had instructed it this way all along.

Again, Jesus came to the Earth and taught about God through the language of the mythic national stories of the people living in Judea. This is no threat to the Christian faith. As I’ve argued at length, we need to understand the Old Testament to understand the teachings of Jesus, but we don’t have to accept the Old Testament to accept the teachings of Jesus.