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Josef Sykora


The biblical portrayal of the Philistines is largely negative. Their military exploits, depicted extensively in the books of Judges and 1 Samuel—coupled with their religion, unaccustomed to the Israelite cult—have led several commentators to label them a prototypical “other.” To put it memorably, the Philistines are what Israel should not be. I attempt to nuance somewhat this overtly negative characterization of the Philistines by focusing on one incident in 1 Sam 6: the Philistines’ returning of the ark, accompanied with a peculiar offering of objects made of gold. I compare this ritual to the sacrificial actions of Eli’s sons in 1 Sam 2-4 to argue that, at least in 1 Sam 6, and with respect to what lies at the heart of Israel’s cult—the approach of the inscrutable and holy deity—the Israelites should be more like the Philistines.

Sheree Lear


It is general consensus that Malachi 3:23-24 is a redactional insertion to the book of Malachi. Scholars have argued that the insertion creates a closure either to the book of Malachi or to a larger corpus in the Hebrew Bible (e.g. the Law and the Prophets). In this article, I will present evidence that draws this consensus into question. I will examine a pattern of scriptural reuse found throughout the book of Malachi that is also found in Malachi 3:24. I will demonstrate that throughout Malachi and in Malachi 3:24, elements of Genesis 31-33 are reused. Based on this observation, I will compare the scribal mechanics and hermeneutic employed in the incorporation of the reused texts into the Malachi corpus with those used in Malachi 3.24. I will argue that there are enough similarities in the employed mechanics and hermeneutic to conclude that Malachi 3:24 is not a redactional insertion.

Anat Mendel-Geberovich, Shira Faigenbaum-Golovin, Arie Shaus, Barak Sober, Michael Cordonsky, Eli Piasetzky, Israel Finkelstein and Ianir Milevski


Three Hebrew ostraca, found near Khirbet Zanu’ (Ḥorvat Zanoaḥ) and published by Milevski and Naveh in 2005, were re-imaged using a high-end multispectral imaging technique. The re-imaging yielded dozens of changed or added characters and resulted in renewed, larger and improved readings, hereby published. In addition, we interpret the texts of the ostraca and place them in the context of the economy and administration of Judah in the seventh century BCE.

Stuart A. Irvine


Several points tell against the usual translation of צור in Ps. 89:44a as the “edge” of the king’s sword. The Hebrew noun should be rendered as a divine epithet and vocative: “O Rock.” Verse 44 asserts that, far from being the Davidic king’s “Rock of salvation” (v. 27), Yahweh as Rock “turns back” the king’s sword.

Ellen van Wolde


The question implied in the title of this article “A stairway to heaven?” in reference to Genesis 28:10-22 can be answered negatively. The word סלם does not designate a ladder or a stairway, since it has no steps. It is not even set up to heaven. It is, first of all, the gradient access road of a city, envisioned here as a descent road built from the top downwards, leading from the city of gods to the earth.

Heath D. Dewrell


Zephaniah 1:5b, which refers to “swearing to Yahweh, and/but swearing by mlkm,” represents an interpretative crux. Scholars have offered a variety of suggestions concerning who or what this “mlkm” is. After surveying previous proposals, this essay suggests that “mlkm” should be understood as “mōlek-sacrifices.” This meaning fits the context well, as rites with the same name were bound up with vows in the Punic colonies of the central Mediterranean. In addition to clarifying the meaning of Zeph 1:5b, understanding “mlkm” as “mōlek-sacrifices” is also significant in that it would provide our first piece of native corroborating evidence that mōlek-sacrifices were bound up with vows in Israel, just as they were in the Punic colonies.

Tzvi Novick


This paper identifies a link between two biblical syntagms involving חסד and a rabbinic syntagm involving חסד. The additional information in the rabbinic syntagm allows us to appreciate that the biblical syntagms figure חסד as a measuring line.

M.L. Case


Rather than the commonly understood chaotic ending to Judges which illustrates the need for a king, the exchange of women in Judg 21 mediates the conflict between the Israelite tribes, creating a peaceful resolution to their civil war through the reestablishment of kinship loyalties. By applying anthropological concepts of gift exchange and alternative marriage practices to the final story of Judges (chs. 19-21), especially to the resolution of that story in ch. 21, we can see the rapprochement achieved through the gift of virgin brides which strengthens relations between the tribes. In light of this assessment, the monarchic refrain (Judg 17:6; 18:1; 19:1; and 21:25) was likely added during the latest stages of development to frame the final two stories to emphasize the need for a strong central government—kingship. Only with this refrain does the reconciliation of the warring tribes realized through the traffic of women appear insufficient.