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.
The aim of the present article is twofold. The first task is to provide a survey of the parallels to the title “Lord of spirits” in the Parables of Enoch (1 En. 37–71) to understand the background of the divine epithet. The studied parallels include titles in the Ancient Near Eastern literature, Biblical and Early Jewish texts, including Dead Sea Scrolls, magical compositions, and Christian texts (New Testament, Patristic and liturgical texts). The second task is to analyze the concept of “spirit” and its cognates in 1 Enoch to provide some clues to the function of the epithet within the composition. The survey aims to demonstrate that a generally accepted interpretation that associates the “spirits” with “angels” should not be overemphasized, since the basic meaning of the title “Lord of spirits” was to indicate God’s authority over human spirits.
The name of God – the “Lord of the sheep” – and when he is first mentioned in the sketch of history, as well as the relationship of the so called “house” and “tower” are much debated points in the research on the Animal Apocalypse. This article takes a closer look at these two topics and compares them with the Pentateuch. A close intertextual reading will highlight striking similarities between their two narratives of history and show that in both compositions the time in the desert is constitutive for the characterization and perception of God and for the idea of his sanctuary.
This essay examines the variants that were caused by the interchange of letters bearing graphic similarity between the Masoretic text and the Samaritan Pentateuch. Through a paleographic analysis of the shapes of the interchanging letters, it aims to carefully propose a paleographic framework for the interchanges. This process reveals that the scribal activity in the transmission of the Pentateuch increased after the middle of the second century BCE, reaching its peak in the middle of the first century BCE. This essay discusses the significance of these findings in light of further material and textual evidence for the role that the Pentateuch played in Second Temple Judaism.
In this essay I investigate the place of agricultural commandments, the significance of priestly authorities, and the concept of cosmic-historical order in the Qumran composition Instruction (a.k.a. Musar LaMebin) based on new reconstructions and improved readings of two agricultural passages. In the first part of the article, I present the passages and examine their connections with broader sapiential and exegetical traditions. Next I investigate the theme of priesthood and demonstrate the priests’ social authority and conceptual significance for the author of Instruction. Lastly I reconsider the relationship between Torah commandments and raz nihyeh, “the mystery of that which comes into existence,” and show how Instruction develops “Qumranic” ideas concerning the mysteries of both God’s predetermined cosmic-historical plan and God’s Law in a manner reminiscent of popular Hellenistic speculations concerning the Law of Nature.
A significant amount of literature was composed in the late Persian and Hellenistic periods that demonstrates a marked interest in priestly and priestly-adjacent matters. This literature has typically been analyzed with an assumption that the Pentateuch serves as a kind of “base text” that these authors used to create their texts. In this article, I pose what is normally taken as the starting point for the analysis of this material as the question to be answered: do Persian and Hellenistic-era Jewish authors writing about priestly-related matters draw on the Pentateuch? And if so, how are they engaging with it in their own compositions? To answer these questions, I examine three compositions: Chronicles, the Letter of Aristeas, and the Aramaic Levi Document. My analysis of these three texts shows that they have a broad range of engagement with the pentateuchal priestly writings.