Among the most puzzling features at Qumran are deposits of animal bones belonging to sheep, goat, and cattle, mixed with ash, which were placed on the ground between large potsherds or inside jars and covered with little or no earth. The deposits are concentrated in the open air spaces, mainly on the northwest and southeast sides of the site. Following Roland de Vaux, most scholars have interpreted these deposits as the remains of ritual but non-sacrificial meals eaten by the Qumran sectarians. However, comparisons with remains from ancient sanctuaries around the Mediterranean world and Near East leave little doubt that these deposits represent sacrificial refuse and consumption debris. Furthermore, records from de Vaux’s excavations suggest that in the first century B. C. E., an altar was located in an open air space on the northwest side of the site. The possibility that animal sacrifices were offered at Qumran is supported by legislation in sectarian works and in non-sectarian works that were considered authoritative by the sect. This evidence suggests that the Qumran sectarians observed the laws of the desert camp with the tabernacle in its midst, including offering animal sacrifices as mandated by biblical law.
This paper focuses on the Jubilean portrayal of Shem, Isaac, and Jacob as beloved sons. In all three cases, their parents’ affection for their scions is modeled on Jacob’s favoring of Joseph, thus indicating that Shem, Isaac, and Jacob were loved more than their brothers. The themes of human parental love, divine election, birthright, and inheritance being interwoven in all three cases, human parental love functions primarily to signal the status of those sons who form the heirs through whom the Israelite line will be maintained. Their characterization as “beloved” also highlights Israel’s prominence amongst the nations – their siblings, in contrast, being destined to become the fathers of the gentile nations. On basis of the fact that the biblical texts relate the image of God as father to His love for and election of His children, Jubilees also presents human parental love as following (upon) God’s election of a favored son. The combination of the motif of God as a loving father with the verse that “Because He loved your fathers, He chose their heirs after them” (Deut 4:37) appears to have led the Jubilean author to assume that the Israelites’ ancestors were the object of divine parental love. He then takes this idea one step further, presenting patriarchal parental love as paralleling God’s love/election.
In this paper I examine three female prophets: Deborah (Judg 4–5), Huldah (2 Kgs 22 and 2 Chr 34), and Innibana (ARM 26 205). The focus is on how female prophets are constructed in these texts and contexts. For the scholar of the ancient Near East, Huldah looks like a familiar character, with the twist that her authority is constructed differently from that of non-biblical ancient Near Eastern prophets. Deborah’s combination of judge and prophet is even more noticeable in that regard. The construction of Deborah as a woman within Israelite society in that text is rather ambiguous. As I will argue, this ambiguity is characteristic of Second Temple construction of female prophecy.
The rabbinic halakhic system, with its many facets and the literary works that comprise it, reflects a new Jewish culture, almost completely distinct in its halakhic content and scope from the biblical and postbiblical culture that preceded it. By examining Jewish legislation in the area of corpse impurity as a test case, the article studies the implications of Qumranic halakhah, as a way-station between the Bible and the Mishnah, for understanding how Tannaitic halakhah developed. The impression obtained from the material reviewed in the article is that the direction of the “Tannaitic revolution” was charted, its methods set up, and its principles established, at a surprisingly early stage, before the destruction of the Second Temple, and thus at the same time that the Qumran literature was created.
This paper explores the ambiguous connection between women and prophecy in ancient Greece. The issue of the genealogy of the prophetic seat of Delphi – the most authoritative oracle of ancient Greece – is first dealt with in relation to Aeschylus’ Eumenides (458 B. C. E.), where the gift of prophecy is said to have been first endowed to Gaia, Mother Earth, to be passed on from mother to daughter until it is given to Apollo, the god of prophecy. Starting from this testimony, the role of Gaia is used in the paper as a key to understanding the motherly symbols associated with prophecy. The paper further explores how the powerful prophetic voice and role of the Pythia is “normalized” in the context of fifth century Athens, where women were not allowed to be public speakers or agents and where the dominant male voice constructed any public feminine voice as inappropriate or deviant. In this respect, the paper points out how in the Athenian representation of the Pythia, the authoritative heir of Gaia is reduced to a reconciling woman acting as a devout supporter of men and their authority.
This article reconsiders the transcription and interpretation of a gold lamella from Aquincum, Pannonia. Although the lamella was lost sometime after World War II, recent research in the Archives of the Hungarian National Museum has revealed photographs and reports from the 1930s. This newly-discovered material allows for a re-reading of the lamella and a better understanding of some of its contents.
Despite growing recognition that early Jewish culture was far broader than the Bible, the biblical retains its hegemony in the study of early Jewish literature. Often, non-biblical materials are read either as proto-biblical, para-biblical, or biblical interpretation, assimilated into an evolutionary narrative with Bible as the telos. But ancient Jewish literature and culture are far more than proto-biblical. Through a case study of psalmic texts and Davidic traditions, this article illustrates how removing biblical lenses reveals a more vibrant picture of the resources and interests of early Jews. First, it discusses evidence showing that despite a common perception about its popularity, the “Book of Psalms” was not a concrete entity or well-defined concept in Second Temple times. Instead, we find different genres of psalm collection with widely varied purposes and contents, and a cultural consciousness of psalms as an amorphous tradition. Second, it demonstrates how David was remembered as an instructor and founder of temple and liturgy, rather than a biblical author, a notion that, despite common assumptions, is not actually attested in Hellenistic and early Roman sources. Third, it reconsiders two Hellenistic texts, 4QMMT and 2 Maccabees, key sources in the study of the canonical process that both mention writings linked with David. While their value to the study of the canon has been challenged, the assumption that they use “David” to mean “the Psalms” has remained largely unquestioned. But when we read without assuming a biblical reference, we see a new David, and the possibility that the ancient writers were alluding to other discourses associated with him – namely, his exemplary, liturgical, and calendrical legacy – that better fit their purposes. Early Jews were not marching toward the biblical finish line, but lived in a culture with diverse other traditions and concerns that cannot always be assimilated into the story of scripture. Recognizing this fact allow us to see Second Temple literature more clearly on its own terms.