So I read Tractate Yoma of the Mishnah, and the corresponding sections of the Tosefta, today, rather than go to Sunday School (ahem). Relative to what I've been writing about for the last two weeks, I want to make four observations. This is a bonus post.
1. 1 Nephi 20:1 quotes Isaiah, with a significant addition. Nephi addresses those who "are come forth out of the waters of Judah, or out of the waters of baptism". Like Coriantumr's "moons", this was a passage that made me cringe when I was younger, because it seemed wrong, too modern, too Christian to be truly written in the sixth century B.C.
As of today, I love this passage. Remember that Lehi was oppressed the Temple hierarchy of Jerusalem (as vividly depicted in 1 Nephi 8). Remember that the tribe of Judah, the royal tribe, ruled Jerusalem, which probably helps explain why Nephi is so interested in Isaiah passages foretelling woes to Judah. And know that, per Tractate Yoma, on the Day of Atonement the high priest was immersed over and over again (and priests were immersed at other times, whenever they went into the temple) in the "place of immersion" (Yoma 3:3). Remember that baptism and immersion are the same word. In other words, Nephi inserts this clarification that for him the waters of Judah = the waters of baptism because he wants to focus the condemnation of 1 Nephi 20 (Isaiah 48) on the priests in Jerusalem, the ones who come out of the waters of the place of immersion.
2. Remember, those of you who were around two years ago, that we talked about the elements of the vision in 1 Nephi 8 and compared them to the architecture and furniture of Solomon's temple? And remember that we talked about rivers, and I pointed out that Lehi's vision had a river, which was consistent with other Temple visions (Daniel 7, 1 Enoch 14, Genesis 2, Ezekiel 47, Revelation 1, Psalms 1-2), even though I didn't know what the river corresponded to in "real life"?
I know what the river might be now. Yoma 5:6 tells how the excess blood from the Day of Atonement sacrifices flowed through "channels" into the brook Kidron.
3. Yoma 5:1 records a disagreement among the earliest rabbis about the veil of the temple. Some thought it was a single sheet; others thought it was two sheets, one cubit apart, with the nearer sheet having its opening against one wall of the temple and the further curtain having its opening on the other side of the building. So you entered the Holy of Holies by entering the curtains at one side, turning and walking all the way across, perpendicular to the direction of the building, inside the veil, through a one-cubit-wide passage, and then exiting.
Strait is the gate and narrow the way, anyone?
4. Yoma 1:1 says a curious thing about the requirements for a high priest to perform the Day of Atonement sacrifices. There is discussion of preparation for the rite, and this is reported: "R. Judah says: Also another wife was made ready for him, lest his own wife should die, for it is written, He shall make atonement for himself and for his house; 'his house' -- that is his wife." So A) the high priest, who represented the Lord coming to make his atoning sacrifice, had to be married, and B) there's this peculiar connection between the high priest's (the Lord's house) and a feminine presence or person.
The Deuteronomists stamped really hard on Israel's memories of the Lord's mother, but the memories of her keep bubbling up at every turn.