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Megillat Ta’anit (The Scroll of Fasting)

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Megillat Taanit originated among the sages of the Second Temple era and is the earliest known Pharisaic document to have survived. The Scroll is a list of 35 dates drawn up in Aramaic and arranged in calendar order. Its goal is to keep the Jews from fasting on 'days on which miracles had been performed for Israel'. On days commemorating important events, in the opinion of the compiler of the Scroll, it was forbidden not only to fast, but even to eulogize the deceased. The dates listed are, in the main, those of joyous events of various kinds that befell the Jewish people during the Second Temple era. The Scroll is aimed at preserving their memory and turning them into minor festive days. A commentary in Hebrew was later added to the Scroll, known in scholarly literature as the 'Scholion' that elaborates on the events intimated in the Scroll. Keywords: fasting; Hebrew commentary; Israel; joyous events; Megillat Taanit; Pharisaic document; Scholion; Second Temple era sages

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The story of the encounter of Alexander Macedon with the Jewish nation, reported by Josephus and the Babylonian Talmud, was a favorite topic of many generations of Judaica scholars but fell in complete disrepute in the last century due to several inconsistencies. To account for some of them, Solomon Zeitlin (1924) suggested that the Greek king of the encounter was King Antiochus III, not Alexander, however his idea did not receive the recognition it deserves. Here I enrich Zeitlin’s idea with several new insights. As Antiochus was accompanied by a historian of note, Zenon of Rhodes, the encounter story is likely a fragment from non-extant history writings by Zenon, known to us through Polybius. I conjecture that it was dessiminated by Timagenes of Alexandria who changed the king’s name to Alexander Macedon. In this form, through Strabo, the story became known to Josephus who made further amendments changing the high priest’s name to Yaddua. Developing my earlier (2005) insight, I give a rational explanation to a seemingly fabulous detail of the story, the king’s alleged ‘recognition’ of the high priest, and also resolve several other discrepancies between Josephus and the Babylonian Talmud related to ‘Parmenio’ and ‘Antipatris’. Summing up, I claim the encounter story describes a genuine historical episode, which can be dated according to the historical context to January 9, 198 BC. This reading may provide new bounds on the timing of Septuagint, explain a cryptic episode in the Talmud Yerushalmi and shed light on the circumstances of creating the ‘Alexander Romance.’
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SCIENTIFIC CULTURE is a peer-reviewed, open access international scientific journal, an open information vehicle of academic community with a global coverage and issues touching local and regional interest; it is intended as a starting point for presenting research devoted in the broad field of diachronical Cultural Heritage. The journal provides a broader coverage of studying ancient cultures with natural sciences focused on specific topics of global interest. Amongst the published themes emphasis is given to: Ancient cultures; hidden information in art by symbolism; composition of artifacts; parallels in ancient and recent cultural issues; the role of liberal arts to cultural background; cultural development and the question of independent, autochthonous, interactive patterns; theoretical approaches: archetypal concept and globalization effects; inter-, intra-settlement and environmental interactions on cultural evolution; art and science, virtual culture, cognitive archaeology via positive sciences etc.
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Printed in England at the Oxford University Press. Thesis (Ph. D.)--Dropsie College, 1917. Includes bibliographical references. Master microform held by: NN. Microfilm.
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Cover title. Inaug.-Diss.--Berlin. Lebenslauf. Double paging. "Literatur": p. 52-61. Abridged reprint from the Hebrew union college annual, vol. 8/9.
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