It is well established in the literature that the vocalization of verbs in the Bible occasionally reflects late linguistic developments, specifically, changes in the Hebrew stem system during the Second Temple period, which affected the vocalization but not the consonantal orthography of the verb. This paper discusses five phenomena involving changes in the tense system, rather than the stem system, during the Second Temple period which are reflected in the orthography itself, namely, in the addition or omission of matres lectionis. I argue that the Second Temple scribes did not consider orthographical amendments involving matres lectionis as actual changes of the biblical text. As a result, they sometimes made such amendments, even in the conservative text of the Pentateuch. The five phenomena discussed here are examples of such amendments, reflecting changes in the Hebrew tense system during the Second Temple period. The reason tense-system developments are evident in the verbal orthography, while stem-system developments are not, is that the latter affected not only the vowels but also the consonants of the verbal forms, which the scribes avoided changing.
I argue that the Levitical Prayer offered in Neh 9:5–37 (LP) offers a version of Judean history that does not include the Babylonian exile. Instead, it narrates an unbroken chain of possession of Judean territory that spans from the conquest and settlement of Canaan to the post-monarchic context of the prayer’s composition. Drawing insights from the study of cultural trauma, I make the case that the interpretive importance of such a catastrophic event cannot be assumed for subsequent Judean communities who sought to form a sense of cultural identity through the retelling of a shared past. Potentially traumatic events like the Babylonian exile are not actualized naturally; communal trauma is instead the product of social processes in the present that serve the needs of present and future communities. An elision of the Babylonian exile from a piece of post-monarchic period literature like the LP does not, therefore, require the interpretative conclusion that the prayer was written by the descendants of Judeans who avoided exile and remained in Judea during the sixth century ʙᴄᴇ. Importantly, neither does it exclude the possibility that the LP was produced by a community whose ancestors were displaced and resettled in Babylonia during the reign of Nebuchadnezzar II. Through this analysis I invite scholars to explore a broader range of interpretative possibilities in their study of Ezra-Nehemiah as a composition and the understanding of the defining elements of Judean identity in the post- monarchic period.
Septuagint Kingdoms, the Greek translation of Samuel-Kings, has an ambiguous linguistic reputation. While scholars sometimes note natural linguistic features, its isomorphic and literal translation style is typically emphasised. This ambiguity has apparently caused several scholars to misinterpret LXX 1 Kgdms 3:2, which uses the verb βαρύνω in reference to the failing eyesight of the priest Eli. When examined against other evidence, notably Euripides’ Alcestis, Kingdoms is shown to use a natural though poorly attested Greek expression meaning “go blind.” This paper demonstrates the natural idiomatic use of βαρύνω in 1 Kgdms 3:2 and shows its value in refining our understanding of “heavy eyes” in other non-translation Greek texts. More broadly, it promotes the reading of the LXX against the wider history of the Greek language.
King Saul’s story is not simply a tool for justifying Yhwh’s decision to promote David in his place; it is a narrative of trauma that demonstrates how biblical hegemonic masculinity normalizes sexual violence perpetrated by men against men. Saul is the victim of repeated and sexualized assault by a controlling, coercive deity. After such attacks Saul loses control over his speech, his mind, and his body. He experiences dissociation, helplessness, terror, and rage. In abusing Saul, Yhwh is aided and abetted by Samuel and by David. The sexualized violence Saul experiences marks him and silences him; just before he dies, he a makes a single allusion to the trauma he long endured by invoking the rape he fears at the hands of the Philistines. In fact, after his death, Saul is metaphorically raped, his body stripped, decapitated, impaled, and displayed. He is no trauma survivor, but its victim.
Esther 1 tells us that Xerxes had a special garden that he used for his weeklong celebration given on behalf of the residents of the citadel of Susa. The description of the pavement in verse 6 indicates that this provided a foundation for an opulent decorated garden, drawing upon the many cultures over which the Persian empire of the fifth century BCE ruled. The purpose of this study will be to examine the material composition of that pavement, in particular the bahaṭ, a noun often translated as “porphyry.” Following a review of proposals and analyses of this term, a new suggestion will apply both comparative philology, place name analysis, and the archaeology of Persian period northeastern Africa to argue an alternative understanding of the noun bahaṭ, “colorful granite.” The goal of this study will be to provide a more accurate perspective on the overall composition of the pavement and its garden.
This article explores the roles of Sheshbazzar and Nehemiah in the Jerusalem Temple against the fabric of the Persian imperial rule and points to links between biblical and Mesopotamian temple portrayals. Within this context Sheshbazzar, the peḥā, characterizes a first phase, in which the empire accommodated and embraced local forms of leadership. In the second phase, Nehemiah, the royal cupbearer who initiated and coordinated the building of the Jerusalem wall, represents a form of leadership that was subject to more intensive imperial authority.
The antecedent(s) of the 3ms verbal forms and 3ms pronouns in Ps 7:13–14 have long puzzled scholars, stimulating a wide range of interpretations. This article proposes a new solution, that YHWH is the subject of the first line of verse 13 and the remainder of the 3ms forms in verses 13–14 refer to the enemy of the psalmist. This solution accounts for the available data of grammar and syntax in addition to the context of the overall poem, where the description of the enemy and the actions of YHWH have verbal and thematic echoes with the content in vv. 13–14.
This article examines the request for prayers ὑπὲρ βασιλέων in 1 Timothy 2:1–2 by focusing on three exegetical questions: (1) Who are the βασιλεῖς? (2) Are prayers for βασιλεῖς distinguishable from prayers to βασιλεῖς? And (3) to whom is this exhortation directed? The article argues that the rhetorical construction of this passage emulates and internalizes imperial ideology, but the very act of imitation has the potential to cause colonial anxiety by obscuring the colonial subjects behind this document and by disrupting any attempt at fixed interpretation.