Study the Torah with Academic Scholarship

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Samuel

Hannah: More Than Just the Mother of Samuel

The book of Samuel opens with the patriarch Elkanah’s annual pilgrimage to Shiloh, but it is his barren wife, Hannah, who emerges as the key figure in the story. Through her clever negotiations with God for a son, Hannah finds a way to transcend the bounds of her role as wife and mother and carve out an honorable niche for herself in the Israelites’ sacred chronicles.

Prof.

Nehama Aschkenasy

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What Is a Nazir, and Why the Wild Hair?

Like many prophets, a nazirite once characterized holy people living on the periphery of society, with wild flowing hair to mark their separate status. Some were divine messengers, like the prophets Elijah and Samuel. Others were warriors, like Samson, a wild-man warrior reminiscent of the Sumerian hero Enkidu. The priestly legislation neutralizes the nazir, making the hair itself the focus.

Dr.

Richard Lederman

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Who Were the Levites?

The Torah describes the Levites as a landless Israelite tribe who inherited their position by responding to Moses’ call to take vengeance against sinning Israelites. This account masks a more complicated historical process.

Prof.

Mark Leuchter

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Turning to God When a Fertility Ritual Fails

Channah and Elkanah’s yearly feast resembles a Mesopotamian fertility ritual; when year after year God doesn’t respond, Channah turns to God directly and enters the Tabernacle.

Dr.

Kristine Henriksen Garroway

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A King Who Reads Torah

Deuteronomy envisions a king constantly reading torah and limiting his wealth and resources. Is this how kings are described in the rest of the Bible? What was kingship like in the ancient Near East?

Dr.

Cynthia Edenburg

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