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Covenant

Israel’s Wood Choppers and Water Drawers

Moses extends the covenant to all of Israel, “from the hewer of your wood to the drawer of your water” (Deut 29). The midrash connects this group with the Gibeonites of Joshua 9, creating an anachronism which later rabbinic commentators try to resolve.

Dr.

Wendy Love Anderson

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“Praise YHWH All You Nations”: Psalm 117

Short does not mean simple: Psalm 117 is one of the more difficult psalms. It is only two verses long and exhorts non-Israelites to praise YHWH. Why would such a psalm be written? A look at the worldview of the exilic prophet Deutero-Isaiah provides one answer, while reading this psalm together with the beginning of Psalm 118 provides another.

Prof.

Marc Zvi Brettler

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Torah Thoughts, Rabbinic Mind, and Academic Freedom

Prof.

Zev Garber

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The Significance of Hittite Treaties for Biblical Studies and Orthodox Judaism

Dr.

Yitzhaq Feder

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Moses’ Commandments: The Secret of R. Nissim of Marseilles

In the 14th century, R. Nissim of Marseilles suggested that God told Moses only the general command for the Mishkan and the laws in the Torah, and Moses himself wrote the details and attributed them to God as a way of glorifying God. A close look at many passages in Deuteronomy suggests that this was an early conception of Moses’ role in commanding the mitzvot.

Dr. Rabbi

David Frankel

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Standing Under Sinai: On the Origins of a Coerced Covenant

Tracing the tannaitic and biblical sources for the famous claim that God held Mount Sinai over the Israelites and threatened to bury them if they did not accept the Torah.

Dr.

Tzvi Novick

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The Shema's Second Paragraph: An Inner-Biblical Interpretation

The second paragraph of Shema (Deut 11:13-21) has significant overlaps with the first (Deut 6:4-9), including some identical phrases and core concepts. It was likely written as a later elaboration of the first, a process that may reflect the earliest stages of the Shema becoming a central text.

Prof.

Marc Zvi Brettler

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Is Judaism Meant to have Exclusive Religious Secrets?

An Explication of Deuteronomy 29:28

Rabbi

David Levin-Kruss

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Torah: Deuteronomy's Version of Wisdom for Israel

Deuteronomy reflects influence from ancient Wisdom traditions, such as those in the book of Proverbs and in other ancient Near Eastern literature. Yet Deuteronomy presents Torah as Israel’s own Wisdom teaching. This serves both to elevate Torah and to insist that it be in dialogue with the broader, non-Israelite world.

Dr.

Ethan Schwartz

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Circumcision as Purification

Second Temple period interpreters understood circumcision as an act of purification, but they debated whether it was physical or spiritual.

Dr.

David Bernat

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Deuteronomy's Uncompromising Demand for Women's Sexual Fidelity

An Investigation of the Ideology Behind Deuteronomy 22:12-29

Dr.

Cynthia Edenburg

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How and When the Seventh Day Became Shabbat

Dr.

Jacob L. Wright

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Chesed: A Reciprocal Covenant

Today chesed is understood as an altruistic act of kindness. In the Bible, chesed and the parallel term noam refer to a covenantal arrangement between a powerful person or deity and their subject(s).[1]

Prof.

Elinoar Bareket

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The Covenant in Moab: Deuteronomy Without Horeb

Deuteronomy has Moses receiving a revelation at Horeb, but only teaching the Israelites its contents decades later in the Land of Moab. This two-step revelatory process, which is presented as two covenants (Deut 28:69), masks an earlier form of Deuteronomy that had no record of a Horeb revelation. 

Dr. Rabbi

David Frankel

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Testing Abraham: Justice in Sodom Before Loyalty in the Akedah

Prof. Rabbi

Reuven Kimelman

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When God Punishes Israel: What Will the Gentiles Say?

In Avinu Malkeinu, we say, “Our Father, our King, act for us for the sake of Your name.” Is God still worried about His reputation? 

Prof. Rabbi

Marty Lockshin

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God, Israelites and Non-Israelites: Embracing Ambivalence

A postmodern look at Parashat Ekev’s view on God’s role in politics, the challenge of monotheism in biblical times, and the relative positions of Israel and her neighbors in God’s eyes.

Prof.

Adele Reinhartz

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Comparing Curses

Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28 are often lumped together, as the two great curses, but their careful comparison reveals some fundamental and surprising differences.

Prof.

Marc Zvi Brettler

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The Red Heifer in Synagogue: Purifying Israel from Sin

Ezekiel 36 uses Priestly “purification” imagery similar to that of the red heifer ritual to describe God’s future reconciliation with Israel, inspiring the rabbis to choose this passage as the haftara for Parashat Parah.

Dr.

Ethan Schwartz

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