After a bunch of weeks of fairly detailed posts, this week will be much lighter. What I will do is bring one small contradiction in the text that indicates the development of ideas contained in the book of Shmot (Exodus). In part this will motivate the post in two weeks time, where I'll give an explanation of why scholars think the original "ten commandments" were completely different than the ones we all know.
Don't Flash God
Among various fine clothing items worn by the priests, are the nondescript pants described in Exod 28: 42-43
42 And thou shalt make them linen breeches to cover the flesh of their nakedness; from the loins even unto the thighs they shall reach. 43 And they shall be upon Aaron, and upon his sons, when they go in unto the tent of meeting, or when they come near unto the altar to minister in the holy place; that they bear not iniquity, and die; it shall be a statute for ever unto him and unto his seed after him.The idea behind them is simple. They are to cover up the nakedness of the priests, so they don't accidentally expose themselves to God (who I guess, doesn't like genitals). However, the commandment for priest wearing pants completely obsoletes a previous commandment that we saw a few weeks ago in Exod 20:21-22
21 And if thou make Me an altar of stone, thou shalt not build it of hewn stones; for if thou lift up thy tool upon it, thou hast profaned it. 22 Neither shalt thou go up by steps unto Mine altar, that thy nakedness be not uncovered thereon.If the priests were wearing pants, it wouldn't matter if they went up by steps, they would never be exposed.
The conclusion is that the earlier commandment requiring altars to not have steps must have existed prior to the innovation of pants as a priestly garment. It must have been commanded at a time where a freeballing priest had a real chance of flashing God. Perhaps even moreso, this commandment could have been in force at an earlier period, before worship was centralized at a single temple.
It turns out that, as I've alluded to several times, many of the commandments listed directly after the revelation on Sinai belong to an older set of laws, including this one about hewn altars. The priestly garments mentioned here belong to a later stratum of laws. The author who decided priests should wear pants completely removed the motivation for having altars without stairs. It is really difficult to believe that both laws were commanded at the same time.