Abstract

Use of rock-cut stepped pools for immersion in harvested rainwater is first attested in Judean source material of the second century BCE and on archaeological record shortly thereafter. As argued here, the practice became widespread due to the impact of Greco-Roman ideas about health and well-being. Immersion of the body in water was seen in the Greek medical tradition as a beneficial activity; it balanced the humors, opened harmful blockages in the skin membrane, and helped facilitate unction. Once these ideas became widespread in Judea, local purification rituals followed, and began incorporating immersion in water. The rabbinic dichotomy between purification and cleansing was likely irrelevant for most Judeans in the late Second Temple period, who probably also saw immersion as beneficial for personal hygiene. For this reason, stepped pools nearly disappear from archaeological record with the rise of public bathhouses, which offered the convenience of large and well-maintained immersion pools in exchange for a fee.

In: Journal of Ancient Judaism

Abstract

A limestone plaque KhQ2207 from Khirbet Qumran contains an inscription which has not been fully deciphered. The revised transcription of the stone proposed in this study indicates that it contains a first-person address, perhaps by the deity, referring to a future judgment. As a literary text inscribed by a trained scribe, KhQ2207 stands in sharp contrast to other scribal exercises found at and near Qumran, suggesting that its initial classification as an exercise should be reconsidered.

In: Journal of Ancient Judaism

Abstract

Scholars have long debated whether Josephus learned Scripture while he was in Jerusalem or only once he got to Rome. The question intersects with, and is hard to answer without, a more general assessment of language use and the education of the (priestly) elite in Jerusalem at that time. This paper argues that Josephus knew little Hebrew and never learned to read Scripture in the original; he was, in this respect, typical of the Jewish elite. His introduction to written Scripture was in its Greek translation, in Rome.

In: Journal of Ancient Judaism
Author: Samuel L. Boyd

Abstract

Overt statements regarding a remnant are strikingly absent in the book of Amos, leading many scholars to find sentiments therein that might lend credence to Amos’ vision for an Israel that survives judgment. In this paper, I analyze the manner in which Amos 3:12 has functioned in this endeavor to find a remnant of Israel in the book. I argue that no such remnant is in view in Amos 3:12 specifically, nor in the book generally. I examine the rhetorical context of Amos 3:12, as well as the syntactical properties of the verse, which help to underscore the role of divine judgment. I place the verse in the setting of ancient Near Eastern legal culture to show how Amos 3:12 functions in terms of Israelite guilt and punishment relative to divine innocence. Finally, I explore how the reading herein is consistent with the rest of the book of Amos.

In: Journal of Ancient Judaism

Abstract

Most studies of the law of the priesthood in Aramaic Levi have focused on comparing its individual laws to those in the Torah/Pentateuch. This article argues that these types of comparisons are anachronistic and obscure the distinctive portrayal of sacrifice in Aramaic Levi. The law of the priesthood does not merely respond to, expand, or revise earlier ideas about sacrifice found in “biblical” texts. Rather, the practice and function of sacrifice in Aramaic Levi is constructed around the deity’s senses of sight and smell. Inasmuch as the law of the priesthood presents a fundamentally different idea of sacrifice than the one presented in Leviticus, it speaks to the continuum of distinct Jewish ideologies of sacrifice in the mid-Second Temple period.

In: Journal of Ancient Judaism
Authors: Joseph Scales and Cat Quine

Abstract

Athaliah and Alexandra were the only two women to rule as queens of Judah/Judaea in their own right and both women’s reigns are reported in Josephus’ writings. Despite their uniqueness, however, Athaliah and Alexandra are rarely compared in scholarship; the former is usually dismissed, and focus centred on the latter. This article contends that there are historical similarities between the two, but literary differences. Josephus could have referred to Athaliah or used elements of her portrayal in his presentation of Alexandra but does not, creating the impression that Alexandra was completely different to her predecessor. It may be instructive, therefore, to consider why Josephus literarily isolates the queens and what this means for his interpretation of Alexandra.

In: Journal of Ancient Judaism
Author: Marcus Rautman

Abstract

The Sardis Synagogue is a key monument of diaspora Judaism, whose rich visual language runs through its decoration and furnishings. Votive texts, inscribed reliefs, and freestanding lampstands found in the building make clear the central importance of the menorah as a resonant religious image but also a functional object. Differences in material, size, form, and decoration reflect multiple sources for the Sardis menorahs, with imported examples apparently guiding the production of distinctive local versions over two centuries. As a group, they document the diffusion of visual ideas as well as contacts with other Jewish communities in late antiquity.

In: Journal of Ancient Judaism
Author: Dries De Crom

Abstract

This article explores the limits and possibilities of a functional theory of systems, more specifically Polysystem Theory, in the context of ancient Hebrew-Greek translation. It describes the central ideas and concepts of Polysystem Theory, and explores how they might be applied to various forms of translation in the Hellenistic age. An attempt is then made to sketch the development of Hebrew-Greek translation from a systemic perspective, from its internal organization to its eventual fate in Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages.

In: Journal of Ancient Judaism
Author: Matan Orian

Abstract

After his takeover of Judea, Antiochus III issued a programma that prohibits the introduction of impure animals into Jerusalem. Two Qumran Scrolls contain parallels to this injunction but target a different audience, i.e., Jews, as opposed to the gentile audience of the programma. Consequently, the focus of these texts also differs: pure animals in the scrolls, impure animals in the programma. Nonetheless, the programma, the scrolls, and perhaps also some instructions in the Mishnah reflect a coherent interpretation of the biblical ban on non-sacral slaughter within a certain radius around God’s altar. Furthermore, comparison of these sources reinforces the authenticity of the programma, offers a possible underlying reasoning for a reconstructed ruling in the Temple Scroll, and even alludes to the Vorlage of the biblical text employed for drafting the programma. Further evidence, however, implies that the relevant Jewish halakhah underwent a significant change during the second century BCE.

In: Journal of Ancient Judaism
In: Journal of Ancient Judaism