Torah Portion

Matot-Masei

מטות-מסעי

Numbers 30:2–36:13
Jeremiah 2:4–28; 3:4

Targum Onkelos and the Translation of Place Names

Targum Onkelos and the Translation of Place Names

The standard Aramaic translation of the Torah, Targum Onkelos, usually renders place names in the original Hebrew or leaves them out. However, there are exceptions.

Prof.
Michael Avioz
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Ataroth and the Inscribed Altar: Who Won the War Between Moab and Israel?

Ataroth and the Inscribed Altar: Who Won the War Between Moab and Israel?

Ataroth is an obscure Transjordanian city, referenced only twice in the Bible. Nevertheless, due to modern archaeological discoveries, it has become a central piece of evidence for reconstructing the history of the Moabite rebellion against Israel and King Mesha’s expansion of the Moabite kingdom described in both 2 Kings and the Mesha Stele.

Adam L. Bean
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Prof.
Christopher A. Rollston
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The War Against Midian: A Study for How the Priestly Torah Was Compiled

The War Against Midian: A Study for How the Priestly Torah Was Compiled

In revenge for the Midianite seduction (Num 25), Phinehas takes the sacred utensils from the Tabernacle and leads the war against Midian (Num 31). Many details in this story contradict other Priestly texts, giving us a glimpse into how the Priestly Torah was compiled.

Dr.
Ariel Kopilovitz
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The Daughters of Zelophehad: A Historical-Geographical Approach

The Daughters of Zelophehad: A Historical-Geographical Approach

The Samaria ostraca and a close look at biblical verses and helps us locate Mahlah, Noa, Hoglah, Milkah, and Tirzah, in the territory of Manasseh.

Prof.
Aaron Demsky
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The Settlement of Reuben and Gad: A Rhetorical Case for Transjordan as Part of the Promised Land

The Settlement of Reuben and Gad: A Rhetorical Case for Transjordan as Part of the Promised Land

Moses misunderstands the request of the Gadites and Reubenites to settle in the Transjordan as a result of unwillingness to participate in the conquest of Canaan with the rest of the Israelites. Once he realizes that they do mean to fight, he accepts their request. The author of Numbers 32 creates a rhetorically rich argument that the Transjordan is part of the Promised Land—but not everyone was buying what this author was selling.

Dr.
Angela Roskop Erisman
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Dibon-Gad Between the Torah and the Mesha Stele

Dibon-Gad Between the Torah and the Mesha Stele

In the southern Transjordanian Mishor (plateau), an area that changed hands between Israelites and Moabites, there once lived two neighboring tribes, Gadites and Dibonites…

Dr.
Yigal Levin
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When Moses Placed Ephraim Before Manasseh

When Moses Placed Ephraim Before Manasseh

R. Judah HeḤasid, in his comment on Jacob’s blessing asserts that the subject of Genesis 48:20b, “he placed Ephraim before Manasseh,” and 48:22, “I have given you [=Joseph] an extra portion…,” is not Jacob but Moses, referring to when Moses put Ephraim before Manasseh in the tribal listings in Num 2:18-21. This further leads him to conclude that Moses could not be the author of v. 20b.[1]

Prof.
Baruch J. Schwartz
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Why Can Women's Vows Be Vetoed?

Why Can Women's Vows Be Vetoed?

The vows of maiden daughters and wives are subject to veto by the woman’s father or husband. What does this say about the status of women in ancient Israel?

Dr.
Shawna Dolansky
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The Geopolitical Context Behind the Boundaries in Numbers 34

The Geopolitical Context Behind the Boundaries in Numbers 34

Do the boundaries of the Land of Canaan in the Torah reflect a 13th century Egyptian province or a 7th century conquest by Pharaoh Necho?

Dr.
Yigal Levin
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Ironing Out Israel’s Itinerary Through the Transjordan

Ironing Out Israel’s Itinerary Through the Transjordan

The itinerary notes in Numbers 21 is a hodgepodge of styles and directions. Nevertheless, once we isolate each style, we find three separate itinerary lists, each from one of the standard Pentateuchal sources.

Dr.
David Ben-Gad HaCohen
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Can a Husband Annul His Wife's Nazirite Vow?

Can a Husband Annul His Wife's Nazirite Vow?

Numbers 6 allows women to take the nazirite vow, rendering them “holy to YHWH” with a temporary, quasi-priestly status. Numbers 30, however, grants fathers and husbands veto power over vows made by women under their auspices, but without mentioning the nazirite vow. How are we to understand the relationship between these two chapters?  

Prof.
​Francis Landy
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Elazar Speaks Once in the Torah: Why Does He Interrupt Moses?

Elazar Speaks Once in the Torah: Why Does He Interrupt Moses?

Moses tells the soldiers returning from the Midianite war that they must purify themselves from corpse impurity. Elazar then jumps in with a unique law in Moses’ name about the need to purify metal in fire. Critical and traditional scholars alike—including the scribes of the Samaritan Pentateuch—were troubled by why Elazar and not Moses teaches this law.

Dr. Rabbi
Zev Farber
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Gad and Reuben Receive Land in the Transjordan: A Documentary Approach

Gad and Reuben Receive Land in the Transjordan: A Documentary Approach

The tribes of Reuben and Gad ask Moses for permission to settle in the Transjordan (Num 32). A look at this lengthy narrative, what exactly they request and what Moses answers, uncovers several contradictions and inconsistencies. Separating the contradictory elements in the story allows for the identification of two parallel accounts.[1]

Dr.
Liane Feldman
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Does the Torah Differentiate Between Murder and Killing?

Does the Torah Differentiate Between Murder and Killing?

What does the root רצח actually mean: to kill or to murder? A look at Rashbam’s attempted (and failed?) solution highlights the ethical ramifications of Bible translation.

Prof. Rabbi
Marty Lockshin
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What Were Reuben and Gad's Territories in the Transjordan?

What Were Reuben and Gad's Territories in the Transjordan?

The Bible has three different maps of Gad and Reuben’s territory all set in the conquest period: Num 32, Josh 13, and Josh 21/1 Chron 6. How are we to understand these shifting depictions of Israelite Transjordan?

Dr.
Yigal Levin
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Mapping Ideologies

Mapping Ideologies

What Biblical maps teach us about Israel, Identity, and Vision of the Land

Dr.
Rachel Havrelock
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The Three Biblical Maps of Israel: Small, Medium, and Large

The Three Biblical Maps of Israel: Small, Medium, and Large

The land God promises to Abraham, the land Moses is commanded to conquer, and the land upon which the Israelites actually dwelt.

Dr.
Yigal Levin
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Redacting the Relationship to the Transjordanian Tribes

Redacting the Relationship to the Transjordanian Tribes

Numbers 32 combines two versions of how Gad and Reuven receive Moses’ permission to settle the Transjordan. The non-Priestly story emphasizes fraternity and kinship, while the Priestly version emphasizes law and obedience to YHWH. By synthesizing them, the redactor suggests that law can serve as a pillar around which the Israelite community can coalesce.

Dr.
Jacob L. Wright
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Matot-Masei

מטות-מסעי

Numbers 30:2–36:13

וַיֹּאמֶר מֹשֶׁה לִבְנֵי גָד וְלִבְנֵי רְאוּבֵן הַאַחֵיכֶם יָבֹאוּ לַמִּלְחָמָה וְאַתֶּם תֵּשְׁבוּ פֹה׃

במדבר לב:ו

Moses replied to the Gadites and the Reubenites, “Are your brothers to go to war while you stay here?”

Num 32:6

Numbers

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