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.
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.
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.
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.
Several Babylonian talmudic sources call for the withdrawal of the book of Ezekiel from circulation. This article examines the development of this tradition and demonstrates how later rabbis integrated early texts in its creation and also used exegetical means to address the contradictions between Ezekiel’s stipulations and pentateuchal law. Another area of concern was Ezekiel’s prophetic status: some rabbinic texts granted Ezekiel the power of a lawgiver; others framed him as transmitting Mosaic traditions; and still others lowered Ezekiel’s prophetic status.
This article examines the topic of exposing Jews of tainted lineage and of maintaining genealogical knowledge in rabbinic literature. Recent scholarship on lineage in rabbinic literature focused on rabbinic attitudes towards lineage and towards revealing invalid Jews. A consensus emerged according to which Babylonian rabbis encouraged exposing Jews of invalid lineage, while Palestinian rabbis preferred to conceal this information. The first part of this article shows that in fact, Palestinian rabbinic sources offer a range of voices regarding exposing invalid Jews. The second section focuses on the issue of maintenance of genealogical knowledge. Scholars assumed that the Rabbis were the central repository of genealogical knowledge, and that they controlled its flow to the community. I show that rabbinic sources do not assume that the rabbis possessed genealogical knowledge. Rather, it is the community as a collective, and the individuals that make it up, that preserve, transmit, and reveal, genealogical information.
This study investigates tannaitic material and passages from the Jerusalem Talmud that address the integration of the descendants of converts into Israel. These texts focus on two main legal issues: the eligibility of converts’ daughters for marriage with priests; and, the recitation of certain liturgical formulae, which indicate Israelite lineage, by converts’ offspring. While tannaitic literature presents competing views on the incorporation of converts’ progeny into Israelite society, the Yerushalmi seems to prioritize facilitating the absorption of converts and their descendants into Israel. While scholars have often considered these sources in terms of stringency and leniency, I view these differences as major (even revolutionary) changes that are based on distinct legal models. I suggest that the Roman understanding of citizenship and the Roman framework for determining the status of freed slaves were among the factors that influenced and eventually enabled the acceptance of converts’ descendants as full members of Israel.
Societies are constituted of thick networks of intersecting constructs: genealogical anxiety is bound up with stronger patriarchal family structures. Goody and Guichard portrayed two clusters of social features – the “Occidental” (bi-lineal family model, strengthened nuclear family, solid husband-wife relationship, monogamy, loose gender separation, and a higher status of women); and the “Oriental” (patrilineal model, broader family structure, weak husband-wife relationship, tribal importance attributed to genealogy, codes of honor and shame, legitimacy of polygamy, rigid gender separation, a lower status of women, active men, and female passivity). Following these taxonomies, the article explores the relationship between genealogical anxiety and intersecting social commitments in classical and early medieval rabbinic culture: Talmudic and Midrashic stories, as well as an exegetical narrative from an unknown Midrash preserved in the Genizah. It also claims that the earlier sources are proven helpful in reaffirming the claim for a different mode of genealogical anxiety in Babylonian sources.
The rise of “conversion,” i.e., the interpretation of Jewishness as an elective identity, is frequently described as a consequence of the advent of Hellenism. This article argues that while the main observations on the chronology and the nature of the phenomenon are correct, “Hellenism” as such cannot explain it. A more plausible context is the change of power relations in Judea after the interventions of Antiochus IV. When the depositions of legitimate high priests and the rise of the Hasmoneans called into question the value of genealogy as an ordering principle, the lessons learned were not limited to the political sphere.