Torah Portion

Shoftim

שופטים

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

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
TheGemara.com
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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
TheGemara.com
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TheGemara.com

"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
TheGemara.com
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TheGemara.com

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
TheGemara.com
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TheGemara.com

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
TheGemara.com
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TheGemara.com
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TheGemara.com

The Kohanim The Levi'im

The Kohanim The Levi'im

Note: The pseudonymous author of this essay is an avreich learning in a Chareidi kollel. The essay is written in yeshivish style, with Hebrew terms (written out in Ashkenazi pronunciation) glossed only once per term if at all. We hope that with the aid of honest discussions about Torah held at TheTorah.com, people like A. Avreich will in the not-so-distant future feel comfortable writing in their own name without fear of communal repercussions. – Rabbi David Steinberg (Rosh Chodesh Elul 5773)

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
TheGemara.com
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Parry Moshe
TheGemara.com
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TheGemara.com

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
TheGemara.com
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TheGemara.com
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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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TheGemara.com
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TheGemara.com

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. Why then, does the Torah sidestep the divinatory character of these objects and practices, and instead, emphasize their ritual and religious character?

Dr.
Jonathan Stökl
TheGemara.com
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TheGemara.com
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TheGemara.com

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
TheGemara.com
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TheGemara.com

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
TheGemara.com
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TheGemara.com
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Shoftim

שופטים

Deuteronomy 16:18-21:9

כִּי תָצוּר אֶל עִיר יָמִים רַבִּים לְהִלָּחֵם עָלֶיהָ לְתָפְשָׂהּ לֹא תַשְׁחִית אֶת־עֵצָהּ לִנְדֹּחַ עָלָיו גַּרְזֶן...

דברים כ:יט

When in your war against a city you have to besiege it a long time in order to capture it, you must not destroy its trees, wielding the ax against them...

Deut 20:19

Deuteronomy

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