Torah Portion

Shoftim

שופטים

Deuteronomy 16:18-21:9
Isaiah 51:12–52:12

Discerning False Prophecy: The Story of Ahab and the Lying Spirit

Discerning False Prophecy: The Story of Ahab and the Lying Spirit

Ahab’s 400 court prophets all assure him that he will defeat Aram, but the prophet Micaiah tells him that these prophets are being enticed by a lying spirit, sent by YHWH himself, for the purpose of destroying Ahab. If Ahab had been willing to face his own position vis-a-vis God honestly, he would have known who was telling the truth.

Prof.
James A. Diamond
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Prophecy and Legislation After Moses

Prophecy and Legislation After Moses

Deuteronomy promises the Israelites that God will continue sending prophets “like Moses.” But if the Torah’s legislation cannot be adjusted, what is the role of later prophets? And how can all the changes to Torah law made by the rabbis be justified?

Prof.
Kenneth Seeskin
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Israel’s Army: What Is the Basis for the Draft in Jewish Law?

Israel’s Army: What Is the Basis for the Draft in Jewish Law?

When the State of Israel was established, the leading figures in religious Zionism had to justify Israel’s right to conscript soldiers using Jewish legal sources.

Prof.
Robert Eisen
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How Jewish Was Herod?

How Jewish Was Herod?

Despite the negative evaluation of Herod in traditional Jewish sources, archaeological evidence seems to suggest that, with some notable exceptions, Herod saw himself as tied to the Jewish religion and tried, to a certain extent, to uphold its laws, even in his own lifestyle.

Evie Gassner
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TheGemara.com

Megiddo’s Stables: Trading Egyptian Horses to the Assyrian Empire

Megiddo’s Stables: Trading Egyptian Horses to the Assyrian Empire

Megiddo was a major Israelite city that was transformed into a horse training center, with large stables and arenas where the palaces once stood. Scholars once attributed these stables to Solomon, but they are actually from the 8th century B.C.E., built by Jeroboam II to provide war horses to the Assyrian Empire.

Dr.
Norma Franklin
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"Are Trees of the Field Human?"

"Are Trees of the Field Human?"

Deuteronomy 20:19 forbids the chopping down of fruit trees during war-time, and offers the cryptic explanation כי האדם עץ השדה (ki ha-adam etz hasadeh), but what does this mean?[1]

Dr.
Shai Secunda
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Can There Be Another Prophet Like Moses?

Can There Be Another Prophet Like Moses?

Deuteronomy introduces the possibility of future Moses-like prophets who will continue to instruct the Israelites how to follow YHWH’s commandments. At the same time, it makes the existence of such a prophet virtually impossible.

Dr.
Jonathan Stökl
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Honoring the Death of Soldiers

Honoring the Death of Soldiers

The concept of heroic death is conspicuously absent in Bible. This sharply contrasts with ancient Near Eastern and Greek tropes, as well as with the book of Maccabees and modern day commemorations such as Israel’s Yom Hazikaron and America’s Memorial Day. How should we understand this difference?[1]

Dr.
Jacob L. Wright
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The Kohanim The Levi'im

The Kohanim The Levi'im

Are Levi’im considered Kohanim, with all the accompanying mitzvos and benefits, or not? Apparently it depends which book in the Torah you are reading, Deuteronomy or Leviticus-Numbers.

A. Avreich
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Deuteronomy's Justice System: Real and Ideal

Deuteronomy's Justice System: Real and Ideal

Deuteronomy’s legal system is complex, combining descriptions of how law actually functioned with elements of ideal law.

Dr.
Yigal Levin
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Parry Moshe
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Breaking the Heifer's Neck: A Bloodless Ritual for an Unsolved Murder

Breaking the Heifer's Neck: A Bloodless Ritual for an Unsolved Murder

If a corpse is found in a field, and the killer is unknown, Deuteronomy 21 requires the elders of the closest city to break a heifer’s neck by a stream and declare that they did not spill “this blood.” How does this ritual of eglah arufah, “broken-necked heifer,” atone for Israel’s bloodguilt?

Dr.
Yitzhaq Feder
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Eglah Arufah: A Ritual Response to an Unsolved Murder

Eglah Arufah: A Ritual Response to an Unsolved Murder

The law of the eglah arufah (the heifer whose neck is broken) has puzzled both traditional and modern commentators. What is it meant to accomplish? How does it work?

Prof. Rabbi
Marty Lockshin
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Ancient Israelite Divination: Urim ve-Tummim, Ephod, and Prophecy

Ancient Israelite Divination: Urim ve-Tummim, Ephod, and Prophecy

In the Prophets, Israelite leaders such as Joshua, Saul, David, and Ahab use divination to help them make decisions, just as their ancient Near Eastern counterparts did. The Torah sidesteps the divinatory character of these objects and practices, and instead, emphasizes their ritual and religious character.

Dr.
Jonathan Stökl
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Does the Torah Really Want Us to Appoint a King?

Does the Torah Really Want Us to Appoint a King?

Deuteronomy’s legislation leaves the decision whether to appoint or not to appoint a king up to the people, and it seems to reflect negatively on the monarchy.  How did a law like this come about?

Dr. Rabbi
Zev Farber
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A King Who Reads Torah: What Was Kingship Like in the ANE?

A King Who Reads Torah: What Was Kingship Like in the ANE?

Deuteronomy envisions a king constantly reading torah and limiting his wealth and resources. Is this how kings are described in the rest of the Bible?

Dr.
Cynthia Edenburg
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Shoftim

שופטים

Deuteronomy 16:18-21:9

צֶדֶק צֶדֶק תִּרְדֹּף לְמַעַן תִּחְיֶה וְיָרַשְׁתָּ אֶת־הָאָרֶץ אֲשֶׁר יְ־הוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ נֹתֵן לָךְ׃

דברים טז:כ

Justice, justice shall you pursue, that you may thrive and occupy the land that YHWH your God is giving you.

Deut 16:20

Deuteronomy

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