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The Euphrates as Temporal Marker in 4 Ezra and 2 Baruch

In: Journal for the Study of Judaism
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In biblical texts, the river Euphrates functions as a geopolitical border: it delineates the boundaries of the land promised to Abraham and his descendants, and it demarcates the border of the Babylonian exiles, separating those who remain in the land from those in exile while imagining a future when they will be reunited. After the destruction of the second temple, however, the Euphrates transforms into a border separating the eschatological future from the crisis of the present. This transformation is reflected in the pseudepigraphic works of 4 Ezra and 2 Baruch, where the eventual restoration of the full community of Israel is imagined through both a physical and a temporal crossing of the Euphrates. This paper explores the presentation of the Euphrates as a border that indicates temporal proximity to the eschaton and to the lost tribes in 4 Ezra and 2 Baruch.

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