The Exegesis of Jeremiah in and beyond Ezra 9-10

in Vetus Testamentum
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It is generally recognized that the prohibition against marriage with “foreign” women in Ezra 9-10 reflects a view among the repatriated gola community in Persian Yehud that non-repatriated Jewish groups should be viewed as ethnic outsiders; the chapters draw from Pentateuchal legal traditions (especially Deuteronomy) to justify this position. Several scholars have noted that this partisan/sectarian ideology has roots in the Ezekiel tradition, which informs much of Ezra 7-Nehemiah 13. Nevertheless, a direct antecedent for identifying the homeland women as “foreign” may be found in the book of Jeremiah, which served as the hermeneutical key for the exegetical goals of Ezra 9-10. This connection was recognized by the later Aaronide authors of Ezra 1-6, who amplified and redirected the implications of this relationship by inaugurating their addition to the corpus with a reference to Jeremiah’s oracles. By so doing, they extended Aaronide hegemony over Ezra 7-Nehemiah 13, incorporating it and its exegetical engagement of prophetic material into their own priestly-scribal curriculum.

Vetus Testamentum

A Quarterly Published by the International Organization for the Study of the Old Testament




Klaus Koch, “Ezra and the Origins of Judaism”, JSS 19 (1974), pp. 177-193; J.G. McConville, “Ezra-Nehemiah and the Fulfillment of Prophecy”, VT 36 (1986), pp. 205-224.


H.G.M. Williamson, “The Composition of Ezra i-vi”, JTS 34 (1983), pp. 1-30. I presume that these authors received and worked with a corpus similar, though by no means identical, to the current form of Ezra 7-Nehemiah 13.


Saul M. Olyan, “Purity Ideology in Ezra-Nehemiah as a Tool for Reconstituting the Community”, JSJ 35 (2004), p. 14; David Janzen, “The Cries of Jerusalem: Ethnic, Cultic, Legal and Geographic Boundaries in Ezra-Nehemiah”, Unity and Disunity in Ezra-Nehemiah, pp. 117-135; Christine B. Hayes, Gentile Impurities and Jewish Identity: Intermarriage and Conversion from the Bible to the Talmud (Oxford, 2002), p. 32; Jonathan Klawans, Impurity and Sin in Ancient Judaism (Oxford, 2000), pp. 43-46.


Blenkinsopp, Judaism: The First Phase, p. 64; Daniel L. Smith-Christopher, “Between Ezra and Isaiah: Exclusion, Transformation and Inclusion of the ‘Foreigner’ in Post-Exilic Biblical Theology”, Ethnicity and the Bible (ed. Mark G. Brett; Leiden, 1996), pp. 117–44.


Ehud Ben Zvi, “Inclusion and Exclusion from Israel as Conveyed by the Use of the Term ‘Israel’ in Post-Monarchic Biblical Texts”, The Pitcher is Broken: Memorial Essays for Gösta Ahlstrom (JSOTSup 190; Sheffield, 1995), pp. 111-112, 119-125; Peter H.W. Lau, “Gentile Incorporation into Ezra-Nehemiah?”, Bib 90 (2009), pp. 356-373; John Kessler, “Persia’s Loyal Yahwists: Power Identity and Ethnicity in Achaemenid Yehud”, Judah and the Judeans in the Persian Period (ed. Oded Lipschits and Manfred Oeming; Winona Lake, 2006), p. 109.


Tamara C. Eskenazi, “Out from the Shadows: Biblical Women in the Post-Exilic Era”, JSOT 54 (1992), pp. 34- 35.


Dalit Rom-Shiloni, “Ezekiel as the Voice of the Exiles and Constructor of Exilic Ideology”, HUCA 76 (2005), p. 44 and passim. See also Konrad Schmid, “Nebuchdnezzar, the end of Davidic Rule, and the Exile in the Book of Jeremiah”, The Prophets Speak on Forced Migration (sbl, forthcoming), who discusses the evolution of this discourse in the Jeremiah tradition as well.


Ben Zvi, “Inclusivity”, pp. 111-112. See also Bedford, “Diaspora”, p. 155 n. 13, who observes that the small number of individuals who are reported to have dissolved their mixed marriages indicates that the normative view even in the gola community is that such marriages were entirely legitimate.


Eskenazi, “Out of the Shadows”, p. 36.


Rom-Shiloni, “Voice of the Exiles”, p. 30.


Rom-Shiloni, “From Ezekiel to Ezra-Nehemiah”, pp. 143-144.


See Saul M. Olyan, “‘We Are Utterly Cut Off’: Some Possible Nuances of נגזרנו לנו in Ezekiel 37:11”, CBQ 65 (2003), pp. 43-51. We may also view the בת אבות of en—over against the more traditional pre-exilic בית אב—as an echo of this communal reformulation. See H.G.M. Williamson, “The Family in Persian Period Judah: Some Textual Reflections”, Symbiosis, Symbolism and the Power of the Past (ed. W.G. Dever and S. Gitin; Winona Lake, 2003), pp. 472-478.


See Cook, Biblical Yahwism, 32-34.


Leuchter, Samuel and the Shaping of Tradition, p. 60.


Mark Leuchter, “The Medium and the Message”, 226-227.


James W. Watts, “Scripturalization and the Aaronide Dynasties”, Journal of Hebrew Scriptures 13 (2013) Article 6 (; David M. Carr, The Formation of the Hebrew Bible: A New Reconstruction (Oxford, 2011), pp. 222, 343-344.


Jacob Wright, “Ezra”, New Interpreters Bible One-Volume Commentary (Nashville, 2010, n.p.). On the problems with Haggai and Zechariah and the putative decree of Cyrus, see Peter R. Bedford, Temple Restoration in Early Achaemenid Judah (JSJSup 65; Leiden, 2001), pp. 114-153.


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