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Transjordan

Og, King of Bashan: Underworld Ruler or Ancient Giant?

The answer lies in his bed.

Prof.

Laura Quick

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Ataroth and the Inscribed Altar: Who Won the War Between Moab and Israel?

Ataroth is an obscure Transjordanian city, referenced only twice in the Bible. Nevertheless, due to modern archaeological discoveries, it has become a central piece of evidence for reconstructing the history of the Moabite rebellion against Israel and King Mesha’s expansion of the Moabite kingdom described in both 2 Kings and the Mesha Stele.

Adam L. Bean

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Prof.

Christopher A. Rollston

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Waheb in Suphah, the Forgotten “Town in the Stream”

Describing the Israelites crossing the Arnon Stream into Amorite territory, the Torah quotes the Book of YHWH’s Battles that speaks of “Waheb in Suphah,” a phrase that appears nowhere else in the Bible. Many creative explanations have been given, but based on a survey on the ground we can identify it as the “Town in the Stream,” an ancient biblical town whose name had long been forgotten.

Dr.

David Ben-Gad HaCohen

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Pre-Biblical Aaron, Miriam, and Moses

In the Torah, Aaron, Miriam, and Moses are siblings; Aaron is the biological ancestor of all priests, Moses is the redeemer of Israel from Egypt, and Miriam, their sister, leads the Israelite women in song. But what can we reconstruct about who these ancient figures may have been?

Prof.

Mark Leuchter

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Dr. Rabbi

Zev Farber

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If Jacob Is Returning to Canaan, Why Send Messengers to Esau in Seir?

Traditional commentators have grappled with why Jacob risks Esau’s wrath by sending him a message that he is on his way. Understanding the history of the text shows that in an older version of this story, Jacob had no choice: he was heading to his parents’ home in the Seir region.

Dr.

David Ben-Gad HaCohen

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Viewing the Promised Land, Moses Looks Even at the Transjordan

Several biblical passages assume that the promised land is limited to Canaan, i.e., the Cisjordan. But this view was not universally shared. Scribes who saw the Transjordan as part and parcel of it adjusted multiple passages in Deuteronomy, including the third and final take of Moses’s death, to make this episode fit their idea about the extent of the land.

Dr.

Angela Roskop Erisman

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Sheger, Ashtoret and Ashtor – The Patron Gods of Transjordanian Shepherds

Deuteronomy uses unusual parallel terms “the shegar of your herd and the ashtorot of your flock” to describe the offspring of livestock. These are names of the ancient West Semitic fertility goddess known as Ashtoret or by her less familiar bi-name Sheger. Her consort is (sometimes) the god Ashtor. What do we know about these deities and what do they have to do with livestock?

Prof.

Aaron Demsky

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Manasseh’s Genealogies: Why They Change Between Numbers, Joshua, and Chronicles

The genealogy of the tribe of Manasseh appears in Numbers 26 and again in Joshua 17 with slight differences. It appears a third time, in 1 Chronicles 7, wholly reconceived. This highlights how certain biblical genealogies represent tribal kinship patterns that shift over time.

Prof.

Aaron Demsky

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The Settlement of Reuben and Gad: A Rhetorical Case for Transjordan as Part of the Promised Land

Moses misunderstands the request of the Gadites and Reubenites to settle in the Transjordan as a result of unwillingness to participate in the conquest of Canaan with the rest of the Israelites. Once he realizes that they do mean to fight, he accepts their request. The author of Numbers 32 creates a rhetorically rich argument that the Transjordan is part of the Promised Land—but not everyone was buying what this author was selling.

Dr.

Angela Roskop Erisman

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Dibon-Gad Between the Torah and the Mesha Stele

In the southern Transjordanian Mishor (plateau), an area that changed hands between Israelites and Moabites, there once lived two neighboring tribes, Gadites and Dibonites…

Dr.

Yigal Levin

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Navigating the Torah’s Rough Narrative Terrain into the Land

The route the Israelites take through the Transjordan in Numbers 21 is choppy: They are in the Negev then suddenly they are back in the Transjordan; they are moving south and suddenly they are north; they are in western Moab then suddenly they are in the eastern desert. Though traditional commentators attempt to tease out an overall route, it seems more likely we are looking at a palimpsest that includes contradictory versions of the story.

Dr.

Angela Roskop Erisman

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The Tribe of Gad and The Mesha Stele

Prof.

Aaron Koller

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Locating Beer-lahai-roi

When geography makes or breaks a storyline

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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The Yam Suph in the Transjordan?

Deuteronomy describes the Israelites camped opposite Suph in the Transjordan. However, the Israelites cross a Yam Suph near Egypt. Moreover, King Solomon builds a fleet of ships on Yam Suph near Eilat. Where is Yam Suph?

Dr.

David Ben-Gad HaCohen

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Gad and Reuben Receive Land in the Transjordan: A Documentary Approach

The tribes of Reuben and Gad ask Moses for permission to settle in the Transjordan (Num 32). A look at this lengthy narrative, what exactly they request and what Moses answers, uncovers several contradictions and inconsistencies. Separating the contradictory elements in the story allows for the identification of two parallel accounts.[1]

Dr.

Liane Feldman

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Inventing the Mythic Amorite Kingdom of Sihon

Inserting the Amorites into Transjordan to manage a Conflict between Cousins

Dr.

Rachel Havrelock

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Where in the Transjordan Did Moses Deliver His Opening Address?

Deuteronomy 1:1 describes the place where Moses gave his address with a list of several toponyms. Early commentators interpreted these toponyms as Moses’ hidden rebuke, while peshat commentators from Bekhor Shor to R. David Zvi Hoffmann tried to fit them into their context. A geographic and source critical analysis suggests that this is an itinerary list, reflecting an alternative account of Israel’s travels through the Transjordan.

Dr.

David Ben-Gad HaCohen

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War at Yahatz: The Torah Versus the Mesha Stele

A closer look at the Torah’s focus on Wadi Arnon as the northern border of Moab: Who really cared about the boundaries of Sihon’s Amorite kingdom?

Dr.

David Ben-Gad HaCohen

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Redacting the Relationship to the Transjordanian Tribes

Numbers 32 combines two versions of how Gad and Reuven receive Moses’ permission to settle the Transjordan. The non-Priestly story emphasizes fraternity and kinship, while the Priestly version emphasizes law and obedience to YHWH. By synthesizing them, the redactor suggests that law can serve as a pillar around which the Israelite community can coalesce.

Dr.

Jacob L. Wright

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