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Etiology

Aaron’s Flowering Staff: A Priestly Asherah?

The story of Aaron’s staff reads like an etiological tale, explaining a holy object in the Temple. The description of the object as a stylized tree suggests a connection with the asherah, a ritual object forbidden by Deuteronomy.

Dr.

Raanan Eichler

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Lot and His Daughters' Motives for Their Incestuous Union

Genesis Rabbah surprisingly portrays Lot’s daughters and their choices in a decidedly positive light, while exacerbating Lot’s culpability.

Dr.

Shayna Sheinfeld

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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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Why the Fire-Pans Were Used to Plate the Altar

After the two hundred and fifty tribal leaders, led by Korah, were burnt, God tells Elazar to use the fire-pans to plate the altar to remind Israel that only priests may offer incense (Num 17:5). But is this the original reason for the plating? A redaction-critical analysis shows that the story once had a different purpose in mind.

Dr. Rabbi

David Frankel

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