In the hope of shedding some light on what it meant to be “Jewish” in the first century CE, and perhaps in other times, this article will closely examine what “everybody knows” about Tiberius Julius Alexander – that he was an apostate from Judaism – by carefully considering the arguments of earlier writers and critiquing them, in light of the events of his distinguished military and governmental career. It will also consider some remarks of his uncle Philo that others have thought relevant, and will offer an alternative narrative of his role as second in command of the Roman army in the Jewish War.
The Babylonian Talmud conceptualizes the proscription against consuming the tereifah/mauled animal (Exod 22:30) and reformulates it as a rule prohibiting any entity that has exited hutz limhitzato, “outside its [proper] bound.” Through a close analysis of the half-dozen sugyot that utilize this rule and their precursors, this article considers the gradual development of this conceptual category throughout the strata of rabbinic literature, concluding that the fullest development of this concept is manifest in the Stam (anonymous layer of the Babylonian Talmud). The developed conception behind the rule can be best understood in light of Mary Douglas’s conception of “matter out of place.” The rabbis make a Douglas-style argument, that, at times, the location of matter outside its proper place suffices to explain an item’s prohibited status. An appendix demonstrates that a seeming early appearance of the term hutz limhitzato in Mekhilta de-Rashbi is of medieval, rather than Tannaitic, provenance.
This article analyzes the expression dad la-kior (female breasts for the [Temple’s] laver) for its spigots (t. Yom. 2:2, m. Yom. 3:10), which so far has received no scholarly attention. The Temple’s laver has no taps/spigots in any attestation from the Bible to Josephus. The laver is an essential item in rabbinic imagery of the Temple and choreography of human-Divine communication. The term dad is used figuratively also for the Divine as nursing infant Israel through the manna (t. Sot. 4:3, Sif. Num. 89). The complete dependency of Israel on the Divine in the desert and of the infant on the breast parallels the laver as the crucial point on which Israel’s atonement depends. Ben Qatin (cf. Latin catīnus [basin]), who offers the laver, and other diasporic donors’ dependency on a literary Temple and rabbinic identarian normativity about handwashing are strengthened through a female image. This marks breastfeeding as a topos for exegetical competition.