Study the Torah with Academic Scholarship

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Priestly Source (P)

Why Does the Torah Devote So Much Text to the Tabernacle?

Two responses—from an academic Bible scholar and from a rabbi.

Prof.

Baruch J. Schwartz

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Rabbi

Herzl Hefter

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Does a Day Begin in the Evening?

Close reading of the relevant biblical texts uncovers friction, maybe momentous historical reform.

Dr. Hacham

Isaac S. D. Sassoon

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The Concept of Kedusha (Sanctity)

In the Priestly Torah and the Holiness School

Prof.

Israel Knohl

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Jacob’s Multiple Death Scenes

Bringing Parashat Vayechi to Life

Dr. Rabbi

Zev Farber

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Sex During Menstruation: From Impurity to Prohibition

According to Leviticus 15:24, sex with a menstruating woman results in temporary impurity but seems to be allowed. According to Leviticus 18:19 and 20:18, on the other hand, it is strictly prohibited. What accounts for these two different approaches?

Dr.

Eve Levavi Feinstein

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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 Biblical Prohibition of Polygyny?

Popular legend tells us that Rabbenu Gershom (d. ca 1028) was the first to prohibit polygyny. The Damascus Covenant’s understanding of the law in Leviticus 18:18, however, suggests that polygyny may have been prohibited more than a thousand years earlier by the Priestly authors.

Dr. Hacham

Isaac S. D. Sassoon

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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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Ironing Out Israel's Itinerary Through the Transjordan

The itinerary notes in Numbers 21 is a hodgepodge of styles and directions. Nevertheless, once we isolate each style, we find three separate itinerary lists, each from one of the standard Pentateuchal 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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Niddah (Menstruation): From Torah to Rabbinic Law

In Leviticus 15, the laws of niddah are about purity; Lev 18 and 20, however, prohibit sex during menstruation. The rabbis, who inherited both of these texts, create a new, hybrid concept: the prohibition of sex while a woman has the status of menstrual impurity.

Prof.

Charlotte Elisheva Fonrobert

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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.

Tzemah Yoreh

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Noah's Four Sons

Does the Supplementary Hypothesis explain the existence of a fourth son that found his way back into Pirkei de-Rabbi Eliezer and the Quran?

Dr.

Tzemah Yoreh

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The Source of Jacob's Two Blessings

Project TABS Editors

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The Priestly Repudiation of Yibbum

Deuteronomy commands a man to marry the childless widow of his brother (yibbum). And yet, a close look at the Priestly text of the Torah shows that it did not have the option of yibbum.

Dr. Hacham

Isaac S. D. Sassoon

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Reconstructing the Priestly Moses

 Making Sense of the Opening of Vaeira

Dr. Rabbi

David Frankel

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Mourning for Jacob at Goren ha-Atad

Why was Jacob’s Funeral Procession Across the Jordan?

Dr.

David Ben-Gad HaCohen

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When and Where the Israelites Dwelt in Sukkot

Dr.

David Ben-Gad HaCohen

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In the Presence of God

The Difference between God’s “Name (שם)” and “Presence (כבוד)”

Dr.

Michael Carasik

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A Theological Revolution in Devarim

Dr.

Tamar Kamionkowski

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Moses Dies at the Age of 120 — Was It Premature?

The end of Deuteronomy recounts that at an age of one hundred and twenty Moses says he is no longer able/allowed to lead the people’s journey and will therefore not be carrying them on to cross the Jordan (Deut 31:2). According to other places in the Torah, however, Moses dies because of a sin – his or of the people.

Dr.

Gili Kugler

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Source Criticism Enhances Our Acceptance of the Torah

Traditional commentators endued certain Torah references with midrashic or esoteric purport in an effort to counteract those who mocked them. But in so doing, they were conceding the mockers’ evaluation of these texts as being, prima facie, inconsequential. Fortunately, source criticism helps us accept these texts without discomfort, obviating the compulsion to interpret them away.

Dr. Hacham

Isaac S. D. Sassoon

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