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Sarah

Was Abraham Really a Man of Faith?

Abraham does not comply with the very first command that YHWH gives him, and throughout his life, he doubts and questions YHWH. Does Abraham ultimately become the man of faith he is reputed to be?

Prof.

Diana Edelman

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Abraham’s Migration and Name Change: A Story for the Babylonian Exiles

Abram’s journey from Ur of the Chaldeans to Canaan, and God’s changing his name to Abraham, “father of a multitude of nations,” presage the struggles and aspirations of his descendants’ return migration from Babylon to Judah. At stake is Isaiah’s vision about the place of Israel among the nations.

Prof.

Hyun Chul Paul Kim

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Sarah, Rebecca and Bathsheba Ensure Their Sons’ Successions

Abraham, Isaac and David are literally or figuratively blind to YHWH’s intentions. It is their wives who take decisive action to shape Israel’s future.

Rabbi

Nolan Lebovitz

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Sarah, Afraid of Abraham, Denies Laughing

When Sarah overhears that she and Abraham will have a baby, she laughs and when confronted, denies it for fear of Abraham’s reaction. After all, Abraham has consistently put her in jeopardy, neglected her, and was content with Ishmael, Hagar’s son, as his heir.

Prof.

Tammi J. Schneider

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Hagar: An Egyptian Maidservant’s Suffering Is Seen by YHWH

Abused by Sarai, Hagar flees to the wilderness. An angel of God appears to her and instructs her to return and continue her suffering and enslavement under Sarai, but he promises that Ishmael will be free. Hagar responds by naming YHWH El-Roi, “God has seen me.” Hagar’s story parallels Israel in Egypt, highlighting that God cares about people beyond just Israel.

Dr. Rabbi

Shai Held

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Abraham and Sarah in Egypt: A Story Composed to Prefigure the Exodus

The sister-wife story of Abraham and Sarah in Egypt reworks the sister-wife story of Isaac and Rebekah in Gerar. The passage is an intertextual bricolage, composed to have Abraham, the paradigmatic “first Israelite,” personally experience the nation's core redemptive event.

Prof.

Christoph Levin

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Reconciling Hagar and Sarah: Feminist Midrash and National Conflict

Hagar and Sarah are the matriarchs of the Arabs and the Jews in Jewish and Muslim interpretation. In the Bible, the feud between the two women is never mended, but Jewish and Muslim feminist readers have used midrash-style poetry to rewrite the ending of their story, in hope of reconciling the contemporary conflict between their putative descendants.

Noam Zion

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“Take Your Only Son Isaac” – What Happened to Ishmael?

In the introductory verses of the Akedah (Binding of Isaac), God refers to Isaac as Abraham’s only son, ignoring the existence of Ishmael. Ishmael’s absence has bothered even the earliest readers of the text, but a documentary approach obviates the problem. The key is understanding the relationship between Abraham and Hagar.

Dr.

Philip Yoo

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Grace Leake

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Abraham Passes the Test of the Akedah But Fails as a Father

The story of the Akedah appears to present Abraham’s actions in a uniformly positive light. However, Isaac’s absence at the end of the story, and Sarah’s death immediately afterwards, suggested to some traditional and modern commentators a criticism of Abraham.

Prof.

Aaron Koller

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Is Sarah Old or Young When Kidnapped by Abimelech?

Set in between two stories that describe Sarah as old and withered is the episode of Abimelech taking Sarah. Why does he desire her?

Dr. Rabbi

Zev Farber

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The Sacrifice of Isaac in Context: Recovering a Lost Ending of the Akedah

The earliest version of the birth and sacrifice of Isaac account questioned the identity of the boy’s father and concluded with Abraham sacrificing him to God.

Dr. Rabbi

Tzemah Yoreh

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The Paradigm of the Barren Woman: How God ‘Remembers’ on Rosh Hashanah

The liturgical readings of Rosh Hashanah tell of Sarah, Rachel, and Hannah being “remembered” by God, making barrenness and conception the locus of divine providence.

Prof.

Rachel Adelman

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Torah Narratives with Angels Never Actually Happened: Heretical or Sublime?

Maimonides believes that any story in the Bible with angels is a prophetic vision. Nahmanides calls this position “forbidden to believe” and claims they are real occurrences. Must the Torah be historically true or just philosophically?

Prof. Rabbi

David Frankel

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Giving Miriam and the Matriarchs Their Proper Funerals

The Bible pays little attention to the death of its female characters, writing only cursory death notices, or sometimes none at all. Second Temple period authors retell the Torah’s stories to give more pride of place to the death scenes of its heroines.

Dr.

Atar Livneh

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The Expulsion of Ishmael: Who Is Being Tried?

The literary similarities between the expulsion of Ishmael account and that of the Akedah implies that a trial is taking place.

Prof.

Rachel Adelman

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Isaac’s Divine Conception?

“The Lord visited Sarah” (Gen 21:1) – When God (and his angels) appears to Abraham to announce the birth of Isaac, the text implies a hidden visit to Sarah. Does this mean, as both Philo and Paul claim, that Isaac was born from a divine conception?

Dr. Rabbi

Samuel Z. Glaser

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