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Abstract

The argument draws upon literary theory to revisit the two clauses that, traditionally, make up Song 1:1. (1) The title evaluates the work as the song-most of songs. I argue that the evaluation refers to the work’s manifold form of simulation—a literary work representing the speech of a dreamer, who speaks from both inside and outside the dream. (2) The scoring in MT, the rubric in LXX (Sinaiticus, Alexandrinus), ancient interpreters and modern all take the first words of the Song of Songs to be a heading, comprising title (שִׁיר הַשִּׁירִים) and attribution (אֲשֶׁר לִשְׁלֹמֹה). I argue that the clause marked and understood as an attribution may be the beginning of the character’s speech.

Open Access
In: Vetus Testamentum
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Abstract

This essay concerns the vexed question of imitatio Dei in the Holiness Code (Lev 17–26) and, to a minor degree, other Holiness (H) traditions in the Pentateuch. I argue that H possesses a robust theology of imitatio Dei, but that the specific form that this imitation takes requires further clarification. Conceptually, I distinguish between the imitandum (i.e., that which is to be imitated) and the imitatio (i.e., the act of imitating). I argue that the imitandum is holiness understood as a quality proper to the deity that is irreducible to a code of conduct, but that this does not vitiate the applicability of the concept of imitatio Dei. On the level of the imitatio, I emphasize the irreducibly social nature of the imitatio, as well as its theocentric logic of justification. Within a typology of imitational structures, H represents an interesting case where both the imitandum and imitatio are heteronomously determined by the external demand of the deity and where the impulse of private, subjective moral growth plays a negligible role.

Open Access
In: Vetus Testamentum

Abstract

Little is known about the gendered dimension of anti-Semitism. Emerging from a literature review on social identity theory, anti-Semitism, sexism, and Jewish feminism, I demonstrate the urgency of examining the link between gender and experiences of anti-Semitism, using the FRA’s 2018 dataset “Experiences and Perceptions of Antisemitism: Second Survey on Discrimination and Hate Crime against Jews in the EU,” a large-scale survey of Jews in thirteen countries across Europe. The independent variable is gender identity. Five dependent variables relate to experiences of sex/gender discrimination, physical attacks, offensive/threatening comments, offensive gestures/staring, and online harassment. Using five control variables—being identifiable as a Jew in public, country, Jewish identity, education level, and Jewish population in one’s neighborhood—I engage with descriptive statistics and binary logistic regression analysis to analyze my variables. The findings show that while women are more likely to experience gender discrimination, men are significantly more likely to experience anti-Semitism.

Open Access
In: European Journal of Jewish Studies

Abstract

Nathan tells David a story about a rich man who takes and kills a poor man’s lamb (2 Sam 12:1–4). This, it turns out, is figurative for David’s own deeds of killing Uriah the Hittite and taking his wife. The story and its application suggest the intersecting power dynamics between groups: rich and poor, male and female, native and foreigner—and, crucially, human and nonhuman. This article argues that intersectional analysis should include an interspecies dimension, and explores these dynamics at work through various mechanisms of relation. Low status human groups are connected with nonhumans through animalisation, and are thereby delegitimised. Nonhuman animals and animalised humans are positioned as objects within mechanisms of domination, such as exploitation, exchange, and semiosis. The relationship between the poor man and lamb, though, offers another possibility: alliance. Care can be extended across species lines, with implications for intergroup relations throughout the intersectional web.

Open Access
In: Vetus Testamentum

Abstract

The verbs נִשְׁקַף and הִשְׁקִיף are usually both rendered into English as “to look down,” with no apparent difference in meaning despite their occurrence in the niphal and the hiphil, respectively. However, there seems to be a clear pattern in the choice between the two binyanim, which is determined by the gender of the person described. The author’s selection of either stem may give us a glimpse into the Weltanschauung of the biblical writers and their perception of how men and women acted in society and on the stage of life. In one interesting instance regarding queen Jezebel (2 Kgs 9:30), the regular linguistic pattern is reversed to further emphasise the stark contrast between her character and the usual way in which female characters are described in the Hebrew Bible. Paying attention to the general pattern also gives additional evidence in the question of the identity of the speaker in Prov 7:6.

Open Access
In: Vetus Testamentum

Abstract

According to the mashal (parable) attributed to Shimʿon ben Yoḥai in Gen. Rab. 22:9, the murder of Abel (Gen 4:8–10) may be likened to a gladiator’s death in the arena. This article argues that the parable assumes the audience’s familiarity with gladiatorial shows, which came to an end in the early fifth century CE. Tracing the transmission of the mashal in Tanḥuma ha-Nidpas (Bereshit 9) and the earliest commentaries on Genesis Rabba, it further argues that the gladiatorial allusion was not understood after the demise of the games, and that the Tanḥuma’s version is a later reformulation. The preservation of the imagery in the earliest extant manuscripts of Genesis Rabba, despite the fact that it was not well-understood when they were produced, demonstrates the conservation of a reference to a late antique public institution in medieval copies and thus contributes to the knowledge of Genesis Rabba’s textual history.

Open Access
In: Journal for the Study of Judaism

Abstract

Proverbs 30:1b presents one of the most intractable text-critical dilemmas in the HB. Following Ronald Troxel’s suggestion that text criticism be reimagined as “a commentary on the life of the text,” I suggest the way forward in reading Prov 30:1b lies in carefully engaging with the versions as a window on its history. Emerging from this process, I argue that Prov 30:1b may have once read *לָאִיתִי וְלֹא אוּכָל, “I am weary and powerless.” Early on, however, this text was conflated with another textual tradition that read a proper name thus producing a double reading. In time, scribes harmonized this double reading which then calcified in MT. The versions and analogous biblical passages suggest the proposed text, while documented scribal practice and lexical usage support it.

Open Access
In: Vetus Testamentum

Abstract

This short article revisits the question whether a class of inscriptions from the Phoenician city of Sarepta and the Israelite settlement at Kuntillet ʿAjrud should be understood as votive offerings, graffiti, or scribal exercises. It argues that differences in the manner of execution mean the Sarepta and Kuntillet ʿAjrud inscriptions resist attempts to impose a single unifying explanation. By doing so, it yields insights into the nature of sacrificial terminology in the world of the Hebrew Bible and offers a more nuanced understanding of the mlkʾmr sacrifices that are named in some Punic inscriptions.

Open Access
In: Vetus Testamentum

Abstract

In this essay I make three arguments on Ezek 23:3–4: first, “in Egypt … in their youth” (v. 3) does not refer to Israel’s time in Egypt before the exodus, but to the early political histories of Samaria and Jerusalem. Second, the statement ותהיינה לי (v. 4) should not be rendered “and they became mine” (referring to the event of marriage), but rather “and they were mine” (referring to the fact of marriage). Third, the vocabulary used in vv. 3–4 functions at the local level within the argument of Ezek 23:1–27, but also on a larger level as part of the editorial coordination of Ezek 16 and 23. The allegory in Ezek 23:1–27 can therefore be understood as a coherent critique of Judahite foreign policy, without any reference to traditions of Israel’s origins in Egypt.

Open Access
In: Vetus Testamentum

Abstract

Historians often address knowledge transfer in two ways: as an extension and continuation of an established tradition, or as the tradition’s modification in an act of individual reception. This article explores the tension between the two approaches through a case study of Eliezer Eilburg. It traces the footsteps of a sixteenth-century German Jew and his study of the late medieval Hebrew medical and mystical literature composed in the wider Mediterranean. As it uncovers the cultural, political, and social processes shaping knowledge transfer between various Jewish cultures and geographies, the article highlights the receiver’s individual agency. Under the thickly described intellectual traditions, it is the receiver’s lived experience that allows historians to grasp the impact of knowledge on the lives of premodern people—the impact on their body and its relation to the world and to God. Building this argument, this article problematizes the relationship between theory and practice.

Open Access
In: European Journal of Jewish Studies