The masoretic manuscripts and the Hebrew grammars have transmitted two different ways of vocalizing the imperative form of the verb ברך « to bless ». The Tiberian manuscripts, such as Alep and Leningrad B 19a, contain בָּרֲכוּ, while since the twelfth century on, the majority of manuscripts and contemporary editions have read the orthography בָּֽרְכוּ. Different vocalizations of ר (reš) probably reflect dialectal divergences, and a new generation of Hebrew grammar should reflect them as well. The Practice of Ben Asher, who mainly used the ḥatef pataḥ, became the minority, while the use of the šwa by Ben Naftali became the majority and was later taken up by Norzi in the seventeenth century. Thus, the masoretes’ authority is a philological issue in the printed editions of the Hebrew Bible.
This article explores literary representations of female mobility in the Hebrew Bible. While it is often assumed that women barely moved in the ancient world, the study shows that the Hebrew Bible gives witness to a vast spectrum of travelling agents. The texts do not offer direct access to socio-historical realities, but as documents of cultural history, they are argued to hint at and echo the variety of the phenomenon in ancient Israel. It is not meaningful to speak of the travelling women as a collective, however, as the motives for their movement are tied to various socioeconomic contexts, ranging from slavery to economic migration to foreign policy. While class is fundamental to ancient female mobility, the sources also reveal the significance of other intersecting differences such as age, sexuality, kinship, ethnicity, or religion displayed by the (in)voluntary travelling agents.
This article furthers our understanding of rabbinic theology through an examination of its characteristic modes of expression. I demonstrate that although the rabbinic literature frequently polemicizes against perceived deviant theologies, it refrains from explicit expressions of God’s unity. This disinclination derives from the target and intent of rabbinic theological polemic. The rabbis’ opponents were not Christian binitarians who believed in multiple divine persons, but what I will refer to as Jewish subordinationists who believed in created divine agents through which God acts in the world. The rabbis were therefore less concerned with the ontological nature of God’s unity than they were with distancing all other beings from God’s sole sovereignty. My work provides additional textual support for the growing scholarly consensus that Jewish proponents of Logos theologies were among the rabbis’ earliest opponents, but it challenges the current convention that interprets these theologies in a primarily Christian binitarian context.
The MT of Eccl 5:8 presents challenges of lexicography, grammar, and syntax, in addition to exegetical and text-critical difficulties. This article surveys some attempts to interpret Eccl 5:8 without resorting to textual emendation, and then proposes a new translation and analysis of the MT in its exegetical context. Ecclesiastes 5:8 delineates the benefit of a land or country as being found “in the whole” rather than in one of its component parts. While one will observe governmental corruption in an individual “province” (v. 7), Qoheleth observes that a national governing structure, embodied in a king, brings the benefit of political stability, which ultimately enables an agrarian society to flourish.
The hapax legomenon, מתיהדים, in Esth 8:17 has typically been interpreted as “becoming Jews” or “pretending to become Jews.” Based on contextual factors, we argue that neither of those interpretations is satisfactory. Instead, we argue for the meaning, “siding with the Jews” or “joining with the Jews.”
According to Lev 2:11, leaven and honey were not to be burned as a part of a grain offering, although they could be offered to YHWH as an offering of firstfruits, as mentioned in Lev 2:12. This article proposes that the purpose of the omission of leaven and honey from grain offerings was to foster the production of a pleasing odor, because these substances lengthen the burning process (in the case of leaven) and create a burning smell (in the case of honey). This article also suggests that their omission acts as a reminder of God’s mighty hand of salvation in the Exodus story. The lack of yeast and honey corresponds to the unleavened bread and bitter herbs in the Passover meal, providing a clear link to this meal and thus aiding our understanding of their omission in grain offerings.
Deuteronomy 21:10–14 describes a procedure which was to be followed if an Israelite man wanted to make a female captive his wife. The month-long period of time mentioned in v. 13 is stated to be the length of time the female captive mourned for her father and mother. It has, however, been argued that the month-long period of time also served as a way to determine if the woman was already pregnant. A robust case can be made, however, that this was not the case. The month was, in fact, a time for the woman to mourn, and to make the transition from being a captive, non-Israelite/foreign, daughter, to being a free, non-foreign/Israelite, wife.
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.
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.