With special focus on the law of judges in the Temple Scroll (LI:11–18) and the pentateuchal texts that it engages, this article examines the treatment of narrative chronology in the revision of pentateuchal texts. It argues that, although what first facilitated the reception of the Torah as a unified text was the pentateuchal compiler’s chronological arrangement of its plot, early Jewish revisionary interpreters rejected this chronological arrangement even as they accepted the Torah as a unified whole. In rejecting the chronology of the Torah’s narrative, early Jewish interpreters mimicked the authors of the Torah sources, who themselves disregarded the chronologies of the plots in their thematically-based revisions of their literary precursors. They also used this thematic, conflationary hermeneutic as an alternative basis for Torah unity.
The Deuteronomic authors (D) include several references to the Israelites’ forty-year sojourn in the wilderness. Yet even where it can be shown that these writers depend upon source material for this tradition, they seek to recast its purpose, a process that also requires modification of particular story elements. Specifically, D transforms the extended wilderness sojourn from a period of punishment to one of preparation. In so doing, it eliminates the tradition of Israelite generation change during this time. Subsequent interpolations were introduced non-systematically into Deuteronomy in order to harmonize D’s views with those found elsewhere in the Pentateuch.
As is the case with many ancient Near Eastern texts, biblical texts oftentimes betray a complex compositional history. In the case of Deuteronomy 13:2-3, philologically-driven analyses have concluded that the grammatical awkwardness of these verses results from an interpolation. This article attempts to test such analyses through recourse to historical evidence of ancient Near Eastern religious practice. It argues that positing an interpolation in these verses is unnecessary philologically. Moreover, the hypothetical Urtext that results when the purported interpolation is removed defies the conventions of both biblical and non-biblical ancient Near Eastern prophetic practice.
This article addresses the question of source ascription for the plague of darkness in Exod 10:21-23, 27. It argues that attention to the specific content of this episode, and especially its indication of a three-day duration for the darkness, ties it to Exod 6:9-12, Moses’s initial interaction with the Israelites in the pentateuchal Priestly source (P). Beyond style or form, the darkness plague plays an essential role in the Priestly plot and for this reason may be confidently assigned to P.
The authors are preparing a volume for the Yale Anchor Bible Reference Library, Deuteronomy and the Pentateuch, which will examine the following key questions: (1) What is the date and historical context for the composition of Deuteronomy? (2) What is Deuteronomy’s method of composition? (3) What is the relationship between law and narrative in Deuteronomy? (4) What is the intent of Deuteronomy vis-à-vis its Israelite sources? (5) What is the influence of cuneiform legal and treaty traditions upon Deuteronomy and its Israelite forebears? (6) What is Deuteronomy’s status within the compiled Pentateuch (and the larger biblical canon)? In this article, the authors summarize these issues and then examine Deut 13 and its relevance for dealing with each of them.
The social location of Second Isaiah has been an issue of renewed scholarly debate in the past decade. In this debate, H. G. M. Williamson has called attention to the role of terminology in identifying the probable geographical provenance of this portion of Isaiah. In this article, we examine an instance of language contact in Isa 47:2 and argue that the hapax legomenonשׁבל is a loan from the Akkadian root špl, perhaps the specific lexeme šaplû or šapiltu, referring to the “lower part (of the body).” In doing so, we propose that this term is an incidental loan, namely, a borrowing that evinces general contact with the author’s Babylonian surroundings but exhibits no polemic against the empire. That this borrowing was not ideologically motivated is significant, we suggest, for it increases the likelihood that the loan occurred in a Babylonian locale. The argument for Babylonian provenance is buttressed further by parallels observed in Ezek 16, another prophetic text that apparently originated in Babylon and that contains phrasing, literary conventions, and evidence of language contact similar to that in Isa 47. These features, we suggest, are part of an evolving rhetoric within an identifiable segment of exilic and post-exilic biblical prophecy.