Hebrew Studies

Published by Project MUSE
Online ISSN: 2158-1681
A great number of valuables Biblical Hebrew manuscripts are conserved in Spanish libraries. They are of various content and some of them are specially significant for many reasons, one of them having been used in the editing of such important Polyglote Bibles like the Complutensian or the Antwerp Bible. A new catalogue describing the Hebrew collections in the different libraries in Madrid has been published. An overview of El Escorial and Complutensian University Libraries was given in Hebrew Studies 2004. Now, the others main libraries collections of manuscripts in Madrid is given, analyzing the most significant manuscripts. Peer reviewed
The aim of this study is to present the most important Hebrew manuscripts conserved in the libraries of Madrid and El Escorial. The collection of Hebrew manuscripts is especially significant in the National library of Spain, the library of the Monastery of El Escorial and the Complutensian University library. Most of the manuscripts are of sephardic origin. The importance and accuracy of Spanish manuscripts has been recognized since the Middle Ages. Some of them have been used in the editing of such important Polyglot Bibles like the Complutensian Polyglot or the Antwerp Polyglot. In order to update old catalogues from the end of the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century and in order to incorporate relevant data for researchers and librarians a new catalogue is being published. The first step of the work is the study of Bibles, biblical commentaries ang grammatical works. Further research must be done in the future to update the description of other Hebrew manuscripts in these libraries. Peer reviewed
A rabbinic tradition preserved in b. Yoma 52a-b suggests that five biblical verses are "undecidable"—that is, it is not clear how they ought to be punctuated. This makes evident a fact that is not often noticed: the Masoretic punctuation of the Bible is sometimes exegetical in character. Simcha Kogut, in his recent book Correlations between Biblical Accentuation and Traditional Jewish Exegesis, has shown that the biblical text is sometimes punctuated "against" the peshat, the meaning which a "reasonable" reader would assume to have been intended by the author. Such punctuation is a silent commentary. The reason for it is not explained; but it would seem to be prompted by a desire to shape the meaning of the text, often to match it to an interpretation found in rabbinic literature. Choon-Leong Seow's recent Anchor Bible commentary on Ecclesiastes notes over a dozen probable or possible places in that book where biblical scholars have suggested that the Masoretic punctuation does not match the intended meaning of the text. The purpose of this paper is to analyze these cases to determine whether any of these examples were indeed prompted by exegetical concerns. In several cases, the Targum to Ecclesiastes translates the same word twice—that is, they translated simultaneously in accordance with two different decisions about how the verse should be punctuated. I suggest that, in many cases, the Masoretic decision to place a pause in a location that seems to contradict the peshat was similarly made not to contradict it, but to add a second possibility. Despite the restrictive quality of the vowels and punctuation marks which the Masoretes added to the traditional consonants, they may, paradoxically, have been actuated by a desire to preserve the indeterminability of the text.
Psalms 134–136 share a significant number of words and phraseology, and though they appear in this sequence in the Psalter, we cannot automatically assume they were written at the same point in history. In light of the difficulty in establishing an absolute date for each composition, the present paper attempts to determine their dates in relation to each other. To accomplish this, it primarily relies on linguistic dating methodologies, comparing elements in the common words and phrases to identify signs of diachronic developments. In addition to linguistic evidence, other evidence—such as historical places mentioned within the composition—is adduced to affirm the proposed sequencing. The results show that the psalms are dated in the following order: 134, 136, 135, from the earliest to the latest. Both linguistic and internal evidence attest to this ordering. Though limited in its application, the diachronic analysis of duplicate material in psalms still presents itself as a useful tool for determining the relative dates of psalms. The importance of determining a psalm’s date—relative to the common material it may share with another biblical text—is important for those engaging in inner-biblical allusion and exegesis with respect to the Psalter.
This article investigates non-standard spelling in two verses in the Succession Narrative, 2 Sam 14:19 and 2 Sam 11:24, and introduces the idea that the author makes literary use of dialect to portray character. Three consecutive words with unusual spelling in 2 Sam 14:19 are tested against linguistic data and identified as a possible depiction of spoken non-standard dialect. Such use of dialect is literary and intentional, as distinct from dialect that occurs in narrative as an unwitting reflection of the writer's own language. Through the use of dialect, the speaking character, the wise woman of Tekoa, can emphasize her own unimportance to protect herself, to avoid being perceived as a threat by the king. By contrast, the possible dialect spoken by Joab's messenger (2 Sam 11:24) carries a different meaning. In that case, the literary use of an awkward hypercorrection of dialect instead illustrates the ineptness of the messenger in conveying Joab's message to the king.
This book is a revision of Richard Smith's doctoral dissertation, completed at the University of Cambridge in 2000 under the supervision of Professor Robert P. Gordon. While his dissertation focused on the characterization of Joab in 2 Samuel 9-20, this book examines the characterization of David in this "core unit of narrative material within 2 Samuel" (p. 4), which Smith prefers to call the "Court History of David" rather than the "Succession Narrative." Smith contends that a study of the fundamental ethical perspective of 2 Samuel 9-20 will reveal the nature and purpose of this narrative in its current literary environment (theme and Tendenz) and so he seeks to analyze the moral and ethical perspective of the Court History through narrative criticism. Chapter 2 lays out his methodology, where he discusses the difficulties of determining the ethical perspective of narratives in the Hebrew Bible. He notes the importance of theology in ethics and the value of modern moral philosophy in providing a language (descriptive ethics) to express the ethics reflected in the narratives of the Hebrew Bible. Smith then gives a detailed survey of various ethical theories and an explanation of what he means by narrative criticism, and the importance of discerning the ethical viewpoint of the narrator. Central to Smith's thesis is that the narrator's claim in 2 Sam 8:15b that "David began to do justice and righteousness with all his people" provides the interpretative framework for evaluating David's reign. Chapter 3 surveys the biblical and ancient Near Eastern material and determines that the notion of justice and righteousness is not a legal code, but represents the goal "of a well ordered and peaceful society where freedom and equality prevailed" and is "closely associated with wisdom and acts of kindness." Yet, "neither the Hebrew Bible nor the Mesopotamian texts...associate the establishment of justice and righteousness with a radical egalitarianism or the wholesale rejection of hierarchical social structures. Indeed, the establishment of justice and righteousness was considered the ideal purpose of kingship" (p. 63). Chapter 4 seeks to establish the literary boundaries of the Court History / Succession Narrative from 2 Sam 8:15b to 20:26. Smith argues that 8:15b marks a turning point in the narrative which serves to introduce an account of David's establishment of "justice and righteousness." He says, "the idea of David establishing 'justice and righteousness' is kept in view throughout the narrative scenes which follow" (p. 70). Even though the phrase "justice and righteousness" does not occur again in 2 Samuel 9-20, he argues that there are a number of connected motifs that do (such as doing acts of chesed). After an overview of the content of the Court History from this perspective, Smith concludes: The narrative of 2 Sam 8:15b-26 shows how David and his house (1) failed to establish justice and righteousness during his reign over all Israel, (2) actually promoted the moral dissolution of his court and kingdom, and (3) eventually institutionalized oppression. In this context the narrative presents several characters as those whose moral deconstruction was catalyzed by David's unjust reign, amid the historical outworking of divine judgment against him. The narrative thereby presents these unsavory individuals more as products of the Davidic regime than as scapegoats for its failings (p. 106). In the second half of the book, Smith offers a close reading of the Court History to demonstrate his thesis. Chapter 5 looks at 2 Sam 8:15b-10:19 where he argues that in the account of David's treatment of Zibah and the Ammonites, the author acts "somewhat subversively by exposing injustice and folly inherent in two of David's sincere acts of royal kindness" (p. 118). Chapter 6 demonstrates David's clear corruption of justice and righteousness in the Uriah affair and the fall of Rabbah in 2 Samuel 11-12. Chapter 7 is a reading of 2 Sam 13:1-19:9(8) where Smith argues that David's failure to address the rape of Tamar and his unwillingness to acknowledge the justice of Absalom in executing Amnon for his crime were perversions of justice and righteousness that pushed Absalom to...
This is the first publication of a newly discovered document, in which a Yemenite rabbi describes a catastrophic famine that became a major blow for his community and interprets the calamity as a divine punishment for lax mores. The article presents the text in Hebrew and English, details the manuscript's provenance, discusses the historical and halakhic background of the piece, and compares it to other responses to the same event.
Drawing from contemporary studies in real-life persuasion, the present paper underscores its centrality in the book of Ruth. I investigate the persuasive elegance of the opening scene (1:6–18) and its representational importance to subsequent scenes of persuasion in Ruth. The paper describes specific literary devices deployed by Naomi and Ruth in their quest to persuade each other. In particular, it notes the persuasive effects of repetitions, rhetorical questions, hypothetical scenes, emotive language, polite addresses, and oath-swearing formulae. Additionally, I highlight the importance of these devices in the protagonists’ characterization, the book’s plot, and its narrative space.
This article deals with the diary of Hava Shapiro (1878-1943), the first known Hebrew diary by a woman, situating the diary within the broader fields of life writing or autobiographical studies. Using the author's original translations from the diary, the article highlights those unifying or literary elements in the diary that make it a readable, coherent text, including retrospective entries and repeated images of place and displacement, homecoming and homelessness. At the same time, it calls attention to the provisional, work-in-progress aspects of this diary that accord with the observations of feminist scholars of diary writing.
This study presents a fresh approach to the lineation of Biblical Hebrew poems by exploring the poetic line as a perceivable unit of structure that potentially emerges in the cognitive experience of reading or hearing a poem. Drawing from the cognitive poetics work of Reuven Tsur, it applies two cognitive constraints on versification-short-term memory and Gestalt principles-to the Biblical Hebrew poetic line. It accounts for the emergence of poetic lines in the performance experience as a dynamic mental process in which segments of text emerge as parts and wholes in relation to one another. This process is constrained not only by cognitive processing limitations but also by the combinational potential of elements of the text from all levels of language, as well as by reader/listener cooperation and expectations. This paper illustrates, in the context of David's lament for Saul and Jonathan, how a cognitive poetics perception-oriented approach can provide tools (though not rules) for lineating Biblical Hebrew poems. The value of this approach for interpretation is demonstrated in a brief discussion of the chiastic macrostructure that emerges from the lineation of David's lament.
The Masoretic Text of Hag 2:15–19 is one of the most philologically challenging passages in the Hebrew Bible. As such, it has been subjected to frequent emendation (see the Biblia Hebraica Quinta). The present article focuses on two particular problems in this pericope: first, the meaning of Hag 2:16 along with the inter-clausal relations in Hag 2:15–17, and second, the function of in Hag 2:19. In both instances, it is argued that the Masoretic Text can be interpreted without resorting to emendation.
Among the scrolls discovered in the Qumran Caves of the Judean Desert, the continuous pesharim have been especially significant because they have given scholars insight into how Jews living in the late Second Temple Period interpreted their Scriptures. Yet, in light of the atomistic hermeneutics employed at Qumran, scholars have not paid much attention to the structural organization of the pesharim. This study examines the pesher commentary on Psalm 37 (4QpPsa) to show that it has a heretofore unobserved overarching organizational unity. The article argues that the author of 4QpPsa structures the text in a way that preserves the structure of Psalm 37 itself while clearly articulating an overarching theme in the commentary; namely, the "two fates" theme, which contrasts the judgment of the wicked with the reward of the righteous. The first section of the paper examines the way in which the pesher organizes and presents the Scripture citations, demonstrating that the author of Psalm Pesher 1 has left several formal indicators of structural development. The second section focuses on the commentary portions of 4QpPsa, arguing that distinct themes tie together clusters of glosses which are demarcated by vacats, and that a single unifying theme ties together the various clusters. The study concludes by presenting some implications for other major pesharim and the current consensus regarding the genre of pesharim as a whole; it is suggested that future studies should examine the organization of the lemmata and the glosses in other pesharim as this article has done with 4QpPsa, providing further insight into the distinctive hermeneutical thinking of the Qumran community.
This unconventional essay attempts to translate the author’s overall negative opinion of David Grossman’s 2008 novel, To the End of the Land, into larger claims about Israeli society and culture since 2000, as well as Grossman’s place within it. The author’s negative opinion of the novel stems from what he views as its tediousness and flawed narrative structure. Moreover, the author argues that though To the End of the Land represents a breakthrough for Grossman in some senses, that overall Grossman here continues recycling themes and motifs that have been common in his work for almost two decades. However, changes in the Israeli context post-2000—among them a new consensus regarding the inescapable nature of Israeli suffering—find Grossman employing these themes and motifs to different effect. The author claims that these elements in this novel give voice to Grossman’s preoccupation with Israeli suffering, thus making it an unusually representative text in post-2000 Israel.
The present study offers a critical-historical analysis of Deut 29:21-28. The analysis focuses on the question of whether Deut 29:21-28 continues the previous section of verses 15-20, and refers to tribal devastation, as a minority of Jewish exegetes maintain, or begins a new section of its own, and refers to national devastation, as is generally maintained by most commentators and critics. Related to this is the question of whether the material in this section is pre-exilic or exilic. It is the thesis of this paper that these and other difficulties are best understood as reflecting the changing textual and historical contexts in which the passage was set. The core material of the passage appears to predate the fall of the northern kingdom, and to have been transferred to its present context from an earlier version of Deuteronomy 28. It was moved to its present position by a Judean editor after the fall of the northern kingdom, where it was used to show that Moses correctly predicted the devastation and exile of the north (verse 27, editorial), and that the Judeans must follow the law if they wish to escape the same fate (verse 28, editorial). After the fall of Judah, the entire passage was supplemented with Deut 30:1-10, which reinterpreted it as referring to both Israel and Judah, without distinction. It is only at this stage in the development of the material that we find the emergence of the idea that exile does not represent a final end, but is a prelude to repentance and a return to the land.
The presence of the she-ass episode in the Balaam pericope (Numbers 22–24) raises a number of questions, in part because it seems to result in inconsistencies and redundancies. Based on an integrated reading of the biblical text that looks for the elements shared by the episode and the broader story and examines the former in expanding contextual circles, the present article argues that Num 22:21–35 plays an important role by presenting the relationship between Balaam and his donkey as analogous to his relationship with the Israelites.
The expression ûqsāmîm beyâdâm (Num 22:7) has been explained variously as "diviner's salary," "divinatory equipment," or "power of divination in their hands." None of these interpretations has been accepted universally. Parallels from newly published and republished Mari texts (Durand AEM I/1) suggest two new possibilities. The qesāmîm may be substitutes for Israel upon which divination is to be performed. More likely, they are models of omens concerning Israel which are dispatched to Balaam for an expert, more advantageous opinion. The biblical qesāmîm are functionally and semantically equivalent to the Mari têrētum which are baked and sent from one diviner to another for authoritative interpretation.
This paper explores Lev 24:10–23 from the perspective of the outsider. By looking at the story of the so-called blasphemer, I bring up the issues of community boundaries that affect the way he is portrayed. How the narrative describes this person introduces tensions between him and the community. First, I explore the exegetical problems that surround the fight between this man and an Israelite, showing that there is more here than just a wayward or malicious person cursing the deity of the community. Second, I look at the divine speech because one possible interpretation is that the deity, Yhwh, allows for the possibility of the community worshiping other gods. This issue complicates the mainstream interpretation that depicts the mestizo as a “blasphemer.” Since Yhwh accepts worship of other gods, the boundaries between insiders and outsiders are not well defined; in this context, issues of justice are part of the story and the man’s gruesome fate. After considering the biblical text, I will explore a recent case where an outsider pays for the consequences of misspeaking and ends up deported to his homeland. I establish an initial dialogue between the biblical story and that of a Bangladeshi native to see how these stories complement each other. The connection critiques the traditional readings of the Leviticus narrative that do not pay attention to the portrayal of the mestizo in it.
Are metaphorical expressions within the Hebrew Bible the icing on the cake, or are they the batter? One can bake a cake without icing, after all, but not without batter. This (admittedly tortured) metaphor about metaphor serves to capture a question that is of guiding importance to Job Jindo’s study: namely, in what manners and to what extents can the human mind invoke metaphor in order to craft ideas, rather than simply convey them? Jindo’s monograph (stemming from his 2006 Jewish Theological Seminary doctoral dissertation) offers sustained and substantive arguments that metaphor often functions as a core structural and conceptual component of the cognitive dynamics animating Biblical Hebrew poetic texts. Chapter 1 includes a review of previous scholarship on metaphor (pp. 5–21) in which Jindo discerns a historical tendency, following Aristotle, to treat metaphor “as ornament superadded to the content of the utterance” (p. 6). Although he acknowledges some notable exceptions over the centuries, he argues that most thinkers have traditionally defaulted to the metaphor-as-speech (propositional) model rather than to a metaphor-as-thought (orientational) paradigm. The latter approach gained a foothold only with the advent of a new theoretical (n.b., not “theological”; p. 8) framework and analytical tools provided by cognitive linguistics. Biblical scholars have since employed theory-, subject-, and text-focused approaches to metaphor studies, with varying results. What has remained lacking, Jindo contends, is an integrative method-oriented approach that is “exegetically pragmatic” (p. 16) capable of comprehending metaphors not only within their biblical expressions, but also with respect to the underlying cognitive–cultural dynamics that informed such expressions. Jindo, in chapter 2, presents the theoretical framework for his subsequent analyses of poetic metaphor in the book of Jeremiah. He draws synthetically (pp. 27–35) from cognitive linguists as well as philosophers of language, although he devotes scant attention to recent contributions by cognitive psychology. This is unfortunate, given the productive scientific studies of metaphor that have been conducted by psychologists including Karin Moser, Morton Ann Gernsbacher, and Raymond Gibbs (the last of whom Jindo mentions cursorily). Controlled experiments have garnered empirical data about cerebral processes involving neural suppression and enhancement, cognition–behavior links, and nonlinguistic inferences. Such data might well assist with validating (or vitiating) linguistic and philosophical claims about metaphor which—for all their observations and ruminations—remain largely descriptive, intuitive, and self-reported. As things stand, Jindo’s applications of received terminology—like “conceptual domain” and “metaphorical concept” (pp. 29–30), along with “frame” and “script” (pp. 50–52)—are unvetted, and they risk becoming notionally fuzzy and ad hoc. What brain-based, explanatory mechanisms exist for these constructs as applied to contemporary minds or (via texts) to ancient Near Eastern minds? Absent such evidence, what theoretical clarifications and methodological qualifications would be prudent for operationalizing metaphor in projects such as this one? By no means should Jindo be held solely accountable to the need of cognitive linguistics for more rigorous and verifiable constructs; but neither should biblical scholars rest content with slippery notions of mental causeand-effect. Jindo understands metaphors not only as conceptual and orientational, but also as “semantically open entities” (p. 44) that are capable of contextual fluidity and intertextual resonance. When applied to biblical prophetic poetry, metaphors assume a dialogical dimension by inviting (indeed, challenging) their audience to enter into the imaginative reality that emerges out of the prophet’s collaborative relationship with Yahweh. Prophetic metaphor, Jindo seems to be suggesting, is a quintessentially emic mode of language. Within this mode, furthermore, particular “local” metaphors can nest within a guiding “global” metaphor, respectively conveying points of view from the “character worlds” and the “text world” (p. 50). Jindo devotes the heart of his monograph to exploring where and how such metaphors function to bring literary cohesiveness and cognitive coherence to the ostensibly eclectic contents of Jeremiah 1–24. As a preface in chapter 3, the author wields a sharp exegetical eye in discerning numerous formal criteria (pp. 58–70) that contribute plausibly to an overarching editorial structure for the Hebrew version of the book as a whole. Some discussion would have been welcome here about how such stylistic devices (i.e., repetition, inclusio, concentricity...
Johann Cook has argued that LXX's formulation of Prov 28:4 involves the use of an idiom attested in other Jewish sources of antiquity (Hebrew and Greek) and, accordingly, is indicative of Jewish, rather than Hellenistic, influence. In his recent studies of Proverbs, Michael V. Fox, while noting Cook's position, maintains that LXX's rendering reflects a Hebrew Vorlage which is the result of dittography. The present essay reexamines the positions proffered by both Cook and Fox. In so doing, a more precise Hebrew analogue to LXX's formulation is proposed, as well as an alternative explanation of the factors informing the reading of LXX's presumed Vorlage.
One of the loci classici for the Renaissance witchcraft debate is 1 Samuel 28, the story about King Saul’s desperate consultation of a female necromancer in Endor at the eve of his battle against the Philistines. The demonization of the woman of Endor reached its climax in the learned concept of witchcraft as it circulated throughout Europe and on the British Isles in the late medieval and early modern period. The much-maligned necromancer also featured prominently in the only witchcraft treatise ever written by a monarch, namely Daemonologie (1597) by King James VI of Scotland. James wrote this tract in the aftermath of the North Berwick trials (1590-91), in which he had interrogated some of the suspected witches who had been accused of treason by sorcery. The king’s personal involvement in these trials convinced him of the immediate danger that witchcraft posed to his reign as well as to the Protestant faith. Fulfilling his God-given duty, James zealously sought to eradicate the “slaves of the devil” from his country and educate his subjects in the reality of witches and witchcraft, both past and present, including the “Witch of Endor” and her dark craft. Daemonologie is considered a largely derivative work, interspersed with proof texts, and this article discusses in detail how reliant James’s exposition of 1 Samuel 28 was on antecedent traditions in Renaissance art and literature.
Archaic Biblical Hebrew is a phase of the linguistic development preceding by several centuries the Classical stage of the Judean Kingdom. Archaic poetic texts belong historically to the Early Iron age-the stage of their early literarization-they were transmitted for several centuries, either orally or in a sporadic written fixation, before being incorporated into longer prosaic compositions at a later stage, which was also a stage of their early perception. Wider socio-linguistic and lexicological discussion illustrates this model.
The Book of Enoch was known since the eighteenth century when travelers became familiar with it. The book was preserved in Ethiopic (Ge'ez) and the research on the Enochic texts was mostly based on the Ethiopic version of the text until the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Texts that relate to Enoch are vast within the Qumran collection. Altogether, ten copies of texts that belong to the Enochic corpus were discovered in cave 4 of Qumran. They were assigned to Józef T. Milik initially. Milik published his notes on them in his 1976 monograph, whereas the completion of their publishing was done by a different generation of scholars. While the Dead Sea Scrolls have changed the research of the Enoch material drastically, the Ethiopic version of the book remains the only complete version of the text. Already the earlier research on Enoch material suggested that the book of Enoch contains sections that were earlier independent. The Aramaic Astronomical Book is one of them and its parallel material is preserved in The Ethiopian Astronomical Book (EAB) chapters 72-82. The framework of the Astronomical Book is angel Uriel's teaching of Enoch that Enoch on his turn passes to Methusaleh (EAB, chap. 82). The content of the book deals with the movement of the moon in its phases, schematic meteorology, and the movement of the stars in relation to the seasons of the year. These contents find close parallels with the ancient Babylonian astronomy. In light of their overlaps, it is no surprise that the relationship between The Ethiopian Astronomical Book and astronomy of ancient Babylonia continues being discussed. Four Qumran manuscripts 4Q208-4Q211 attest to The Aramaic Astronomical Book. In comparison with the Ethiopian text, the Aramaic version is very fragmentary. Despite Milik's early work with the texts belonging to the Enoch tradition and The Aramaic Astronomical Book in particular, the manuscripts were not published until 2000. Florentino García Martínez and Eibert J. C. Tigchelaar published the manuscripts 4Q208 and 4Q209 in the official Discoveries in the Judaean Desert series. Meanwhile, until today the manuscripts 4Q210 and 4Q211 have not been published in the Discoveries in the Judaean Desert series. Hence, The Aramaic Astronomical Book (4Q208-211) comes to fill a great gap in the present scholarship and it has to be applauded for that. The author of the book, Henryk Drawnel is the professor of the Second Temple literature and the Semitic languages at the Catholic University of Lublin, Poland. Drawnel is known as the writer of An Aramaic Wisdom Text from Qumran: A New Interpretation of the Levi Document. (Supplements to the Journal for the Study of Judaism 86. E. J. Brill: Leiden, 2004). Apart from this book that deals with a text that is also known as The Aramaic Levi Document, Drawnel has contributed to the study of other texts of the Dead Sea Scrolls too by publishing widely on the texts that are attributed to the testament literature (The Visions of Amram, The Testament of Qahat). Broadly speaking, one of Drawnel's fields of interest is the traditions concerning the Levites preserved in the Aramaic texts of Qumran. In the present volume, Drawnel provides the first comprehensive edition of all four manuscripts of Qumran that attest to The Aramaic Astronomical Book. The layout of the book is similar to the Discoveries in the Judaean Desert series that contains the official editions of the Qumran texts. This makes sense, as this book is an official edition of The Aramaic Astronomical Book. Furthermore, new plates (on the basis of the photographs of the Palestine Archeological Museum) were prepared for this publication. The sharp photographs reveal masterful work of the original editor Milik by putting the pieces of fragments together. The Aramaic Astronomical Book is divided into three parts. The first part (pp. 1-70) concerns the introduction. In that section, Drawnel presents an excellent survey of the research history of The Ethiopian Astronomical Book and The Aramaic Astronomical Book. He distinguishes the two texts from each other outlining that, whereas they witness to the same composition, they seemingly preserve different stages of the transmission. The Aramaic text is significantly longer than the...
This paper analyzes and morphologically categorizes the numerous linguistic innovations coined by the famous poet, journalist, and translator Avraham Shlonsky to express various shades and aspects of diminution. It demonstrates, in particular, that such innovations are especially common in his translations and that most of them are formed linearly rather than discontinuously, through the sophisticated and often unique use of various means, such as combinations of suffixes and reduplications. Apparently, in translating from source languages with a rich array of diminutions, especially Russian, Shlonsky felt compelled to innovate in order to remain faithful to the original. His own Hebrew oeuvre was also affected but less directly and therefore to a lesser extent.
Don Isaac Abravanel, the famous Jewish commentator who lived in Portugal, Spain, and Italy during the transition from the medieval times to the Renaissance (1437–1508), draws several times to Josephus’s writing in his commentary on the Bible. While the Book of Josippon was known to other Medieval Jewish commentators, the same cannot be said of Josephus, whose writings were available in Greek and Latin only. In this paper I will point to references to Josippon and Josephus throughout Abravanel’s writings. I will demonstrate the ways that Abravanel made use of these authors in his writings.
One would hardly expect a scholarly study of language, accents, and poetics in early twentieth-century Palestine to begin by invoking Gene Simmons (former lead singer of KISS) as a pivotal cultural referent, but it is a sign of author Miryim Segal's good humor and remarkable capacity for channeling broad currents of popular culture and identity in portraying the emergence of Zionist national culture and language, that she not only does so gracefully but in a manner that cogently sets up the complex argument about the far-reaching stakes and consequences of Eliezer Ben-Yehuda's vigorous promotion of the Sephardic stress system that follows. Segal relates that she once tuned in to a public radio show just as the former rocker (who was actually born in Israel just after the founding of the state) was complaining about the interviewer's pronunciation of his Hebrew name: "It's not Hayim, which is the sort of sniveling please-don't-beat-me-up Ashkenazi European way. The sefaradit way is the correct way. It's Hayim, emphasis on the second vowel, like the Israelis do." Segal cannot resist identifying Simmon's reproach as utterly in tune with a cultural phenomenon that preceded the founding of the State and that was continually reinforced with the increasing institutionalization of Hebrew as the official national language of the pre-State Jewish settlement in Palestine and the State of Israel. The accent system he invokes is indeed associated with a masculine, nationalist persona, contrasted with what from an Israeli perspective is an outdated Ashkenazic Hebrew. From this contemporary exemplar of the gender politics of Hebrew, Segal effectively launches her study backward in time to 1906, when a young Hebrew writer in London sent a letter to a resident of Rishon le-Tsiyon in 1906 to eagerly inquire whether there was "a decent publishing house in Jaffa" where he might find employment, and, with equal urgency it seems: "do you talk to each other solely in Hebrew—and which accent?" (p. 1; emphasis added). Segal reminds readers just how reasonable, indeed essential, it was to ask such a question at that moment in time: Of the many languages in Ottoman-ruled Palestine, Hebrew alone reverberated with both the diversity of established Jewish communities and the sound of stammering newcomers. Ashkenazic immigrants in the late eighteenth century, mostly members of Hasidic sects, had formed minorities within the Sephardic communities and received support from them. As the population grew, the school system of the Yishuv was a crucial site for the metamorphosis of Hebrew into the effective proto-national language; accordingly Segal's first chapter delineates the parallel rise of the Sephardic accent stress system within poetry and the schools. In chapter 2, she complicates received notions of an indigenous Palestinian Hebrew by identifying three disparate pronunciations, each with its own claims for "authenticity," each vying for linguistic hegemony. Throughout these early chapters, Segal keenly attends to the inherent contradictions of linguistic gendering as well as further inevitable contradictions arising from the fact that the shapers of literary and colloquial Hebrew took pride in the language's ancient origins even as they sought to fully align it with modernity. Literary scholars may feel most rewarded by Segal's third and fourth chapters which adroitly address a range of poetic genres and literary movements (women's poetry, Labor poetry, folk song) as well as canonical figures such as Avraham Shlonsky through a series of brilliant close readings. Segal is especially interested in examining how poetry presented the New Hebrew, not just through poetic tropes, but by invoking the new accent as the authentic, living, territorialized language of Jewish labor and the immigrant yet "native" figure of the New Hebrew. Intriguingly, the only figure whose poetics were stubbornly voiced almost exclusively in Ashkenazic Hebrew is Bialik. Segal's compelling epilogue grapples with the ironic case of the national poet who resisted the new-accent Hebrew that was effectively the national language throughout much of the poet's creative life. This leads to a profound speculation, representative of Segal's sophisticated analysis throughout: The national poet reminds the nation of the desire that...
It is widely recognized that the accents developed by the Masoretes have three functions: they mark (1) stress, (2) musical notations, and (3) punctuation. However, the order in which these functions developed remains contestable. The present study demonstrates that indication of stressed syllables was a secondary rather than primary function that became dominant at a relatively late stage. It is most likely that the punctuational function of the accents for recitation gave rise to other relational divisions of a unit. Then the accents came to be used for cantillation in addition to punctuation, although this never fully developed into a system of musical notation. The masoretic accents that we know are thus reflective of an unfinished transition to such notation, intended for singing, from punctuation designed for recitation.
In biblical studies, the overarching literary theories of the last century are under deconstruction, and the Deuteronomistic History (DtrH) is no exception. DtrH refers to the books of Joshua through 2 Kings understood as the compilation of gifted scribes working either under King Josiah in the seventh century or in the Exile a generation later. Scholars, principally Martin Noth, referred to these six historical books as Deuteronomistic because it was thought that Deuteronomy influenced the scribes significantly and provided the legal and ethical blueprint against which Israel was to be judged during its time in the land, as described in Joshua–2 Kings. In this century, however, studies have focused on the contrasts between the norms and ideals of Deuteronomy and the materials contained in DtrH (see G. N. Knoppers, “Rethinking the Relationship between Deuteronomy and the Deuteronomistic History: The Case of Kings,” CBQ 63 [2001]: 393–415). One of the most trenchant voices in this regard has been Eckart Otto, claiming there has yet to be shown any meaningful correlation between the literary layers of Deuteronomy and DtrH (see E. Otto, “The Pentateuch in Synchronical and Diachronical Perspectives,” in Das Deuteronomium zwischen Pentateuch und Deuteronomistischem Geschichtswerk [ed. E. Otto and R. Achenbach; FRLANT 206; Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2004], pp. 14–35). The study of Rannfrid Thelle comes in the wake of Knoppers and Otto. Her focus is the concept of the chosen place, which is ubiquitous in Deuteronomy. The phrase “the place which YHWH your God will choose” is attested twenty-one times in the book, with some variation in wording. This salient feature of Deuteronomy was long thought to have inspired, at least in part, the reforms of Josiah elaborated in 2 Kings 22–23. Thelle’s thesis is that the concept of the chosen place played no role in the account of Josiah’s reform and had minimal if any influence on DtrH, despite a deeply engrained assumption to the contrary by many scholars. After an introductory chapter, Thelle’s thesis is presented in chapter 2, where she disengages the idea of a chosen place from DtrH and endeavors to explain the dynamic of cultic centralization in Deuteronomic terms, that is, on the basis of Deuteronomy alone. In the former matter, she argues that DtrH contains an ideology of Yhwh’s election and protection of Jerusalem that has been mistakenly identified as an expression of Deuteronomy’s cultic centralization. These two are, she contends, separate phenomena. She cites examples such as the concept of divine election in Deuteronomy as distinct from that in 1 Kings 8, where the ideas of Jerusalem as chosen and a house for Yhwh are brought together in the temple constructed by Solomon. Thelle states: Even though the election phrase is similar to the type we find in Deuteronomy, and contains the same type of expansions, the concern communicated here [in 1 Kings] seems entirely different from that in Deuteronomy. We are not dealing with centralization of cult here, we are dealing with the election of Jerusalem as a special city where YHWH will be present and guarantee its protection. Cultic centralization in Deuteronomy, Thelle counters, is an effect of the idea of divine election as it is employed in Deuteronomy to authorize the idea of cult centralization. In the next six chapters of the book, Thelle adds different components to her thesis and develops it in depth, either with respect to Deuteronomy (chapters 3 and 7) or to DtrH (chapters 4, 5, 6, 8). Thelle’s methodology is synchronic as she works with the “final form” of the text “now available to us” (p. 23). The choice to read synchronically as opposed to a diachronically shapes the study considerably. Deuteronomy 12, for example, is commonly analyzed in terms of different literary layers reflecting biblical writers before, during, and after the Exile. In Thelle’s reading of Deuteronomy 12, the description of Israel and its cultic core is more unified and constitutes a scheme that is future-oriented: “The effect of this is to create a new world, a new order of meaning, one in which Israel is commanded to rejoice” (p. 80). In the final analysis, this book is...
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