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Yuval Blankovsky


This article, following a short methodological introduction, presents an analysis of the Talmudic discussion about the decapitation penalty. This short Talmudic passage has been commented upon by many prominent scholars. However, this article suggests a different reading, one based upon posing an additional interpretive question: “what is the author doing in composing the passage in this particular way?” The valuable insights of past scholars are not dismissed by my reading, but they are placed in a different context and hence possess different meanings. At the heart of my analysis is my ambition to articulate the central issue of the particular discourse in which these Talmudic sources participate. I add an explanation of the parallel Talmudic sources that explicate why each of the source’s authors chooses to present the shared tradition in his own particular way. I demonstrate the benefits of adding this interpretive question and the techniques for answering it.

Yael Wilfand


Tannaitic compositions include midrashim that focus on shalom (peace) and its significance. Since the word shalom appears in numerous contexts in the Tanak, the sages were able to develop various ideas, depending on their preferences, from an array of biblical verses. Despite having been composed under Roman rule, these shalom midrashim make no mention of Rome. Thus, scholars who have studied these sources have given scant attention to this broader framework. However, peace played a crucial role in Roman imperial ideology, where Rome is presented bringing peace to the empire. In this article, I analyze these midrashim and other Tannaitic passages and examine their relationship with Roman notions of peace. I show that this material conveys a latent dialogue with the ideology related to pax Romana and how the Roman conceptualization of peace appears to have influenced rabbinic approaches to shalom.

Danielle Steen Fatkin


While scholars have known about the earliest ritual immersion pool in the Buried Palace at Jericho for more than thirty years, they have yet to produce a clear understanding of why the Hasmoneans began building ritual immersion pools when they did. Further, scholars have also failed to acknowledge the innovative nature of these spaces. I argue that we can best resolve these shortcomings by understanding the construction of the earliest known purpose-built ritual immersion pool (PBRIP) by John Hyrcanus I as an innovation driven by the political and social disruptions of the late second century BCE, and that once he had pioneered the idea of a PBRIP that it rapidly gained popularity. This article contextualizes the PRBIPs within the framework of Hellenistic palatial architecture and Second Temple literature rather than rabbinic literature.

Hexaplaric Excavations

(Genesis, the Psalms, Micah, Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel)

Reinhart Ceulemans


This article introduces ten Hexaplaric readings that are cited in Greek and Latin Christian literature that is not exegetical or treats a biblical book other than the one the Hexaplaric reading relates to.