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First Temple, Destruction

How Long Did Gedaliah Govern before He Was Assassinated?

After destroying Jerusalem and taking the king captive, Nebuchadnezzar appoints Gedaliah, a former royal steward, as the governor of Judah. But Ishmael, a scion of the royal family, conspires with Baalis, king of Ammon, assassinates Gedaliah, and kills the Babylonian soldiers stationed in Judah. How did Nebuchadnezzar respond?

Prof.

Dan’el Kahn

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Rachel Weeps in Ramah: Of All the Patriarchs, God Listens Only to Her

Rachel weeps over her exiled descendants and God hears her plea (Jer 31:14–16). Expanding on this passage, the rabbis in Midrash Eichah Rabbah envision Jeremiah awakening the patriarchs and Moses to plead with God to have mercy on Israel. Upon their failure to move God, the matriarch Rachel intervenes successfully.

Prof.

Hagith Sivan

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Parents Eating their Children – The Torah’s Curse and Its Undertones in Medieval Interpretation

Early rabbinic interpretation connected the curse of child eating (Lev 26:29; Deut 28:53-57) with the description of the Babylonian destruction of Jerusalem in Lamentations (2:20 and 4:10) and the Roman destruction of the Second Temple. In the Middle Ages, however, Jewish commentators de-emphasize this connection. The reason for this may lie in the 12th c. development of Christian Bible commentary.

Dr.

Wendy Love Anderson

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The Talmudic Inverse

Privileging Interpretation over Literalism

Dr.

Erica Brown

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The Babylonian Officials Who Oversaw the Siege of Jerusalem

Jeremiah 39 describes Nebuchadnezzar’s siege of Jerusalem, and even names some of the officials who were with him and their titles (v.3). Babylonian administrative records uncovered by archaeology revises our understanding of who they were.

Prof.

Shalom E. Holtz

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Psalm 137:9 - A Verse to Criticize

A Historical-Critical Reading 

Prof.

Marc Zvi Brettler

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Jehoiachin’s Exile and the Division of Judah

King Jehoiachin surrenders to Nebuchadrezzar in 597 B.C.E., on the 2nd of Adar. Decades later, he is released in the twelfth month (i.e., Adar), providing a historical precedent for the Purim story, where Adar is a month of changing fortunes. The fate of Jehoiachin is given dramatically different depictions by the prophets Jeremiah and Ezekiel.

Dr.

David Glatt-Gilad

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Tisha B’Av: On What Day Were the Jerusalem Temples Destroyed?

The First Temple was destroyed either on the 10th of Av (Jeremiah 52:12) or the 7th (2 Kings 25:8). The Second Temple, according to Josephus, was destroyed on the 10th. How did Rabbinic Jews come to commemorate the destruction of both Temples on the 9th of Av?

Dr. Rabbi

Zev Farber

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