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Ezra

How All Kohanim Became “Sons of Aaron”

The Bible knows about many priestly families, including the Levites, the Mushites (descendants of Moses), and the Zadokites. By the time of Ezra and Chronicles, however, only Aaronide priests were legitimate, and other families either merged with them or were demoted.

Dr

Mark Leuchter

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The Origins of Torah Study

A Post-Destruction model of Jewish Identity: Reading and studying Torah as if our life depended on it.

Dr.

Jacob L. Wright

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How the Concept of Mosaic Authorship Developed

In the Persian period, the Torah, which is made up of various law collections, was ascribed to Moses as revealed by YHWH. A parallel development was taking place in Achaemenid Persia that sheds light on this process: The sacred texts called the Avesta, that contain the law​​ (dāta) and tradition (daēnā) of Zoroastrianism​, were being collectively ascribed to Zarathustra (Zoroaster) as revealed by Ahuramazdā.

Dr.

Yishai Kiel

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The Ancient Practice of Attributing Texts and Ideas to Moses

Ancient scribes would write as if Moses was the author, or they would claim that a tradition was originally stated by Moses, but they did not intend to convey a historical fact with this description. Instead, they meant that a given tradition was “authentically” Jewish, or God’s will and that Moses would have approved. I call this phenomenon “Mosaic Discourse.”

Prof.

Hindy Najman

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Sukkot in Ezra-Nehemiah and the Date of the Torah

According to Ezra (3:4) and Nehemiah (8:14-15) the returnees celebrated the holiday of Sukkot according to the law as it “was written,” but differences between their celebrations and the prescriptions in the Torah suggest that the laws they had written were slightly different than ours. Was the Torah finalized by the time Ezra-Nehemiah was written?

Dr.

Lisbeth S. Fried

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Survival and Revival: Megillat Esther and Ezra-Nehemiah

Jews in the Persian Period dealt with the reality of the destruction of Judah in two different ways. Megillat Esther emphasized the diaspora while Ezra-Nehemiah emphasized the rebuilding. For most of Jewish history the Ezra-Nehemiah model was all but non-existent, but this changed with the emergence of Zionism and the establishment of the State of Israel.

Prof.

Sara Japhet

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The Missed Opportunity for Intermarriage and Conversion in the Story of Dinah

An intertextual reading of the Dinah story in Genesis 34, together with Deuteronomy 7 and Ezra-Nehemiah, highlights how it polemicizes against marriage with non-Israelites, even those willing to take on Israelite practices. Some rabbinic counter-readings of the text, however, express a more positive notion of incorporating converts to Judaism into the community. 

Naomi Graetz

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The Origins of Sukkot

The connection between the Israelite festival of Sukkot in the temple and the Ugaritic new year festival and its dwellings of branches for the gods.  

Dr. Rabbi

Zev Farber

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The 220-Year History of the Achaemenid Persian Empire

An overview of Persian history starting from Cyrus the Great’s conquest of Media (549 B.C.E.) until Alexander the Great’s conquest of Persia (334-329 B.C.E.), including related biblical references and Jewish texts.

Dr. Rabbi

Zev Farber

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