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Apotropaic Ritual

The Scapegoat Ritual and Its Ancient Near Eastern Parallels

In the scapegoat ritual of Yom Kippur and the bird ritual of the metzora, sin/impurity is transferred onto an animal and it is sent away. These biblical examples have parallels in Eblaite, Hittite, Ugaritic, and Neo-Assyrian apotropaic rituals.

Dr.

Noga Ayali-Darshan

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The Original Reason for Spilling Wine: Protection from the Plagues

R. Eleazar of Worms in the 12th century, defended the practice of spilling wine when reciting the plagues against detractors who disparaged it, by offering a mystical, numerological rationale. This, however, was a post-facto attempt to explain a folk custom, whose origins lie in the human fear of being struck by these very plagues.

Dr. Rabbi

Zev Farber

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Nehushtan, the Copper Serpent: Its Origins and Fate

The Torah describes Moses building a copper serpent to heal the Israelites. According to Kings, Hezekiah destroys it because it was being worshiped. Archaeology and history clarify the religious and political meaning of this image.

Dr.

Richard Lederman

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A Sin Offering for Birth Anxiety

Following the purification period after birth, a mother must bring a חטאת –“sin offering,” despite her having committed no obvious sin. This offers us a unique glimpse into the prehistory of the Israelite cult, when apotropaic rituals (used to protect against dangerous forces) like those in other ANE cultures, were the norm.

Dr.

Yitzhaq Feder

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Anxiety over Twins: Anthropological Insights into the Story of Jacob and Esau

Dr.

Kristine Henriksen Garroway

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Moses' Apotropaic Intercession

Moses’ use of rhetoric to convince YHWH to undo his decree against Israel recasts ANE ritual intercessions such as the namburbu in a prophetic hue.

Dr.

Marian Broida

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