Ancient Near Eastern Sources offer various kinds of descriptions of gemstones and their use, either for healing or for sanctification rituals. Several myths explain their place in the Ancient Near Eastern cosmology. One of these myths is the Gilgamesh Epic, which tells about a garden of gemstones lying behind the way of the sun—out of reach for humankind. The placement of the garden, e.g. the gemstones in Gilgamesh, also demands further investigation of the placement of gemstones in the Old Testament. The article offers a thorough reading of Gilg. IX 170-196; Gen 2:10-14; Ezek 28:11-19; Is 54:11-17a and, briefly, Job 28. The author shows that gemstones are not just to be regarded colorful and precious. They are deeply connected with a realm outside human reach and with primeval times. They function as a marker in this respect when placed at the robe of the king of Tyre. And they transform Zion according to Is 54 at the other end, to an eschatological future.
It has been recognized in recent scholarship that the Greek translation of Sirach is subtle in its use of word-play and inner-Greek allusion. One such case, the story of the wandering man in Sir (31)34:9-13, can be shown to be a narration of two types of person, the one who wanders for positive learning and the one who errs and is in danger of death. It is thus not the personal experience of the author who has the freedom to travel in the new Hellenistic empires, but a moral tale modelled upon the two types of Odysseus that developed in the Greek tradition. This demonstrates the crafting of the source by the translator on the discourse level and hints at his educational background. It also has consequences for the larger structure of the unit in Sirach and further undermines the idea of a personal biography of Ben Sira.
An integrative study of the two prayers—Ps 20 and the Aramaic hymn in papyrus Amherst 63—reciprocally illuminates their inherent complexity and enables us to trace the intricate paths of their evolution.
Attempts to advocate multiple authorship for the Greek Pentateuch depend principally on statistics and are tenuous methodologically. Research methods from Translation Studies, applied to Genesis and Exodus, bring out their continuity. A sounding of the translational approach in Gen 2-3, Gen 27-28, Gen 48/50 and Exod 1-2 suggests that the Gen translator’s approach is shifting and flows seamlessly into that of the initial Exod chapters. Lexical and syntactic examples, too, illustrate that Exod continues or builds on or further develops the renderings found in the latter part of Gen. A natural explanation for this state of affairs is that the translator of Gen, whose approach had become increasingly idiomatic, completed Gen 50 and continued with Exod in the same vein. Our findings call for a verification of the multiple authorship hypothesis for the rest of the Pentateuch. They imply a less monolithic evaluation of LXX text-critical evidence.
In his recent article “From Persepolis to Jerusalem: A Reevaluation of Old Persian-Hebrew Contact in the Achaemenid Period”, Aren Wilson-Wright reexamines the list of proposed Persian loans in Biblical Hebrew as well as their distribution, specifically in relation to the distinction between Classical and Late Biblical Hebrew. He seeks to demonstrate direct contact between speakers of Old Persian and Hebrew and proposes two further Old Persian calques.
This paper reevaluates Wilson-Wright’s proposals on both methodological and philological levels, and offers a fuller dataset for several phenomena. While allowing the principal distinction between Classical and Late Biblical Hebrew, questions of textual genesis and transmission are combined with sociolinguistic considerations to explore the possible ramifications of the proposed linguistic interaction: What do we know about the use of Old Persian apart from royal inscriptions? What do we know about Iranians, locals and their use of language in the Achaemenid administration? The result is a much more complex picture of multiple linguistic interference with many unknowns.
Using Exod 12:21-27 as a case study, this paper shows how literary analysis can find itself subordinated to historical-critical theory. It will be argued that this practice is ill advised. An established reading of a text should never be dismissed when it is found to challenge accepted paradigms. It is, rather, the presumed historical and social settings that must be problematized.
This article focuses on the pivotal role of verses 12-14 in Psalm 51. In v. 13 the speaker expresses the fear that due to his transgressions God’s spirit of holiness will be taken away, because God does not tolerate impurity of any kind. For the impurity generated by the transgressions will be projected onto the sanctuary, which in this way will be defiled. Therefore, aligned with רוח קדשך in v. 13 is טהור לב in v. 12: purity is the sine qua non for God’s holy spirit to stay and keep active in the midst of the Israelites. In this view, the impure world of words and deeds is the total from which the pure ones are to be separated. It is not the purity of the heart itself, but the process of purification that is expressed here, so that the pure heart remains, cleared of sins.
This paper aims at highlighting a methodological flaw in current biblical archaeology, which became apparent as a result of recent research in the Aravah’s Iron Age copper production centers. In essence, this flaw, which cuts across all schools of biblical archaeology, is the prevailing, overly simplistic approach applied to the identification and interpretation of nomadic elements in biblical-era societies. These elements have typically been described as representing only one form of social organization, which is simple and almost negligible in historical reconstructions. However, the unique case of the Aravah demonstrates that the role of nomads in shaping the history of the southern Levant has been underestimated and downplayed in the research of the region, and that the total reliance on stone-built archaeological features in the identification of social complexity in the vast majority of recent studies has resulted in skewed historical reconstructions. Recognizing this “architectural bias” and understanding its sources have important implications on core issues in biblical archaeology today, as both “minimalists” and “maximalists” have been using stone-built architectural remains as the key to solving debated issues related to the geneses of Ancient Israel and neighboring polities (e.g., “high” vs. “low” Iron Age chronologies), in which— according to both biblical accounts and external sources—nomadic elements played a major role.