Although Num 25 is clearly a composite text, the manner of its compilation is still debated. This article presents a new analysis of the chapter as a test case for a fundamental issue in contemporary pentateuchal studies: whether the Pentateuch represents mainly a compilation of independent sources or a series of redactional strata. The analysis is focused on internal considerations of Num 25, suspending any theory of the formation of the Pentateuch, the nature of the Priestly writings, or the status of the book of Numbers. I conclude that Num 25 is more likely to consist of three independent narratives than several layers placed one on top of the other, and suggest several methodological considerations that can be helpful in analyzing other texts in the Pentateuch.

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