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Elohist (E)

The Binding of Isaac, a Sacred Legend for the Jerusalem Temple

The Akedah (binding of Isaac) takes place on a mountain in the obscure land of Moriah. When a Judahite scribe later revised the story to have the angel of YHWH stop Abraham from killing his son, he connected Moriah with the Jerusalem Temple, thereby giving it a new hieros logos—a sacred founding legend, to compete with the northern worship site Beth-El.

Prof.

Rami Arav

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Waheb in Suphah, the Forgotten “Town in the Stream”

Describing the Israelites crossing the Arnon Stream into Amorite territory, the Torah quotes the Book of YHWH’s Battles that speaks of “Waheb in Suphah,” a phrase that appears nowhere else in the Bible. Many creative explanations have been given, but based on a survey on the ground we can identify it as the “Town in the Stream,” an ancient biblical town whose name had long been forgotten.

Dr.

David Ben-Gad HaCohen

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The Two Arks: Military and Ritual

Tradition and source criticism both see two ark traditions in the biblical text: The Ark of the Covenant and the Ark of the Testimony. The former accompanies Israelite troops into battle; it appears in Numbers 10 (וַיְהִי בִּנְסֹעַ הָאָרֹן) and in the stories of battles against the Philistines and Ammonites in Samuel. The latter remains in the Tabernacle, serving as a seat for YHWH’s glory and revelation.

Dr. Rabbi

Tzemah Yoreh

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Joseph and the Famine: The Story’s Origins in Egyptian History

During the reign of Pharaoh Siptah, Egypt had a powerful vizier from the Levant named Baya, who dominated even the Pharaoh. Archaeological records and climatological studies show that this was right in the middle of a lengthy famine that effected the entire Mediterranean.

Prof.

Israel Knohl

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Hosea’s Characterization of Jacob

As part of a complaint by God against Israel and Judah, Hosea 12 mentions several stories about Jacob, intended to serve as a model for behavior. But is Jacob a good or bad role model?

Noam Cohen

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Jacob’s Multiple Death Scenes

Bringing Parashat Vayechi to Life

Dr. Rabbi

Zev Farber

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How God's Revelation of the Name YHWH Continues to Enlighten
When God reveals the name YHWH to Moses in Exodus, he says that not even the patriarchs knew this name, yet they all use it in Genesis. Critical scholarship’s solution to this problem led to one of the most important academic innovations in biblical studies in the last three hundred years: the Documentary Hypothesis.

Dr. Rabbi

Zev Farber

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The Unknown Yet Known Place of Moses’ Burial

On a mountain, in a valley, no one knows – the three traditions about where Moses is buried in Deuteronomy 34 stem from three different sources.

Dr.

David Ben-Gad HaCohen

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Why Deuteronomy Has an Account of Aaron's Death in the Wrong Place

Bewildered, Rashi asks why Deuteronomy records Aaron’s death at Moserah (not Mt. Hor) and why it does so in the middle of Moses’ description of his (second) forty-day stay upon Mount Horeb. Academic biblical scholarship sheds light on these questions.

Dr.

David Ben-Gad HaCohen

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Did Jacob Meet Yhwh by the Stairway to Heaven in Beth-El?

On his way to Haran, Jacob stops at a place, later named Beth-El, and sees in a dream angels going up and down a staircase to the gateway of heaven. In the story, Jacob also notices Yhwh standing beside him and and Yhwh speaks to him. Examined closely, this short story is beset with literary difficulties that suggest it is composed of two independent narratives.

Prof.

Baruch J. Schwartz

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Israel's Departure from Egypt: A Liberation or an Escape?

The oldest layer E has the Israelites pushed out by the Egyptian people under the king of Egypt’s nose during the plague of darkness and Moses splitting the sea on his own. J then revised this account to create a story of an all-powerful God smiting the firstborn sons, forcing Pharaoh to give in, and then drowning Pharaoh and his army in the sea when Pharaoh changes his mind. Finally, the Priestly redactor adds details, expands the numbers of both the Egyptians and the Israelites, and puts in his signature theological innovation: God changes Pharaoh’s mind for him and forces him to give chase.

Dr. Rabbi

Tzemah Yoreh

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