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In: The “God of Israel” in History and Tradition
In: The “God of Israel” in History and Tradition
In: The “God of Israel” in History and Tradition
In: The “God of Israel” in History and Tradition
In: The “God of Israel” in History and Tradition
In The “God of Israel” in History and Tradition, Michael Stahl provides a foundational study of the formulaic title “god of Israel” (’elohe yisra’el) in the Hebrew Bible. Employing critical theory on social power and identity, and through close literary and historical analysis, Dr. Stahl shows how the epithet “god of Israel” evolved to serve different social and political agendas throughout the course of ancient Israel and Judah’s histories. Reaching beyond the field of Biblical Studies, Dr. Stahl’s treatment of the historical and ideological significances of the title “god of Israel” in the Hebrew Bible offers a fruitful case study into the larger issue of the ways in which religion may shape—and be shaped by—social and political structures.

Abstract

With the support of the Moabite god Kemosh, King Mesha of Moab recounts in KAI 181.14–18 his successful imposition of ḥērem on Nebo, an Israelite town east of the Jordan River that maintained a cult to Israel’s god YHWH during the Omride period. Historically, the ninth-century BCE Mesha Stele, now located in the Louvre, provides one of the most important sources for understanding the ancient institution of ḥērem-warfare, a religiously inflected political act in which an invading people targeted an enemy town, annihilated (some significant portion of) its population, and consecrated the slaughter to the attacking group’s deity. Drawing on theoretical tools from postcolonial and feminist critics on the role of gender in the discursive construction of political communities, this study offers a fresh historical interpretation of the religious politics of Mesha’s literary portrayal of ḥērem-warfare by analyzing the gendered dimensions of the Mesha Stele’s ḥērem-list (ll. 16–17), which specifies five gendered subgroups within Nebo’s slaughtered population. In particular, I argue on contextual, etymological, literary, and conceptual grounds that the ḥērem-inventory’s final, emphasized term, rḥmt (l. 17)—commonly translated by scholars as “female slaves,” “maidservants,” “concubines,” or the like—most likely refers to “pregnant women.” In its culmination with pregnant women, the Mesha Stele’s ḥērem-list rhetorically demonstrates the king’s complete fulfillment of his religious obligations to the Moabite god Kemosh, as well as Moab and Kemosh’s political dominance over Israel and its god YHWH. Pregnant women (and their fetuses) were highly vulnerable members of ancient society whose continued existence harbored the potentiality for the social and political rebirth of the Israelite “Other.” Religiously sanctioning violence against the bodies of “foreign” pregnant women thus serves as a special point of emphasis in the construction of the boundaries of an independent Moabite political identity ideologically centered on the institution of divine kingship.

In: “A Community of Peoples”

Abstract

Who was the goddess known anciently as the “Lady of Byblos”? Typically, scholars have tried to answer this question by identifying the goddess’s “true” proper name. By contrast, this article emphasizes the goddess’s primary identification by the city of Byblos as a social-political community in order to analyze the Lady of Byblos’s role in shaping Late Bronze Age Byblos’s political landscape, which included imperial, royal, and collective modes of governance. The goddess’s place in Byblos’s political-religious economy thus serves as a fruitful case study for better conceptualizing through the lens of religion the complex range of potential interactions in the ancient world between centralizing and decentralizing political forces as parts of a single social-political system. In this way, the Lady of Byblos may “stand up” not only as an integral member of Byblos’s social order and religious life, but also as an example of the fundamental role that deities played in shaping ancient political realities.

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In: Journal of Ancient Near Eastern Religions
In: “A Community of Peoples”
Studies on Society and Politics in the Bible and Ancient Near East in Honor of Daniel E. Fleming
A “Community of Peoples”: Studies on Society and Politics in the Bible and Ancient Near East in Honor of Daniel E. Fleming draws together a diverse community of scholars to honor the career of Daniel E. Fleming as a historian of the Bible and ancient Near East.

Together, these scholars participate in a dynamic historical enterprise, each one positioning themself along a Middle Eastern spatial-temporal continuum stretching from the Old Babylonian to the Persian periods. Each contributor attempts to touch a sliver of ancient history, whether a particular person or community, a text or visual image or scribal process. They do so through a diversity of methods and disciplines, which together reflect the possibilities and promises for history writing.

The Harvard Semitic Studies series publishes volumes from the Harvard Semitic Museum. Other series offered by Brill that publish volumes from the Museum include Studies in the Archaeology and History of the Levant and Harvard Semitic Monographs, https://semiticmuseum.fas.harvard.edu/publications.