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Josephus

Nimrod: The Making of a Nemesis

Genesis describes Nimrod as a great hunter before YHWH and a powerful king. In late Second Temple writings, Nimrod is connected to the Tower of Babel and seen as a rebel against God. This negative view of Nimrod persisted through the centuries in the writings of the Church Fathers, and was further expanded in rabbinic midrash and medieval Islamic literature.

Prof.

Carol Bakhos

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The Etrog: Celebrating Sukkot With a Persian Apple

A luxury Persian import, famous for its medicinal qualities and lovely smell, the citron became Sukkot’s פְּרִי עֵץ הָדָר “fruit of a splendid tree” in the first century C.E.

Dr.

Dafna Langgut

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Menorah, Its “Branches” and Their Cosmic Significance

Midrash Tanchuma relates how Moses didn’t understand God's instructions for how to construct the menorah. This highlights the complexity of the Torah’s instructions, which commentators from antiquity until today struggled to visualize. One approach, taken by Philo and Josephus, was to interpret the menorah symbolically.

Prof.

Steven Fine

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Mariamme, the Last Hasmonean Princess

The Hasmonean princess Mariamme is best known today for her tempestuous and doomed marriage to Herod the Great. During her lifetime, however, Mariamme was a Jewish celebrity in her own right. As a descendant of the Hasmonean family on both her maternal and paternal sides, Mariamme was the closest thing that Jews had to royalty.

Dr.

Malka Z. Simkovich

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Sedition at Moab: Josephus’ Reading of the Phinehas Story

The Torah describes Phinehas as a zealot, who kills Zimri in an act of vigilante fervor, and is rewarded by God with eternal priesthood. Anticipating the rabbis’ discomfort with Phinehas’ vigilantism, Josephus transforms Phinehas into a military general and Zimri’s sin into a dangerous sedition requiring a military response.

Dr.

Yonatan Miller

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Did Pharaoh’s Daughter Name Moses? In Hebrew?

She named him Moses (מֹשֶׁה) explaining, “I drew him (מְשִׁיתִהוּ) out of the water” (Exod 2:10).

Dr. Rabbi

David J. Zucker

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The Law of the Disrespectful Son and Daughter

The law of the ben sorer umoreh poses a number of problems. Like the rabbis, Josephus interprets the law, but his conclusions are quite different.

Prof.

Michael Avioz

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Sukkot, the Temple and the Messianic Controversy

“הרחמן הוא יקים לנו את סוכת דוד הנופלת – May the All-Merciful One reestablish the fallen sukkah of [King] David.”  Birkat Hamazon

Dr.

Malka Z. Simkovich

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Rebecca’s Character

Rebecca, informed by God of her sons’ destinies, thwarts her husband’s effort to bless Esau. The Torah thus portrays an assertive Rebecca in contrast to a weak and uninformed Isaac. Early Jewish interpreters took conflicting approaches to this unusual depiction of a patriarchal couple.

Dr.

Malka Z. Simkovich

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Ancient Egypt: An Overview of Its History

Prof.

Gary Rendsburg

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